The Kreeger Museum has reopened, with an art exhibition that probes the vestiges of the past

By Mark Jenkins

The Washington Post

April 13, 2021

The title of the exhibition “Traces” at the newly reopened Kreeger Museum suggests a collection of wisps and glimmers. In fact, the group show — originally scheduled for the fall, but delayed because of the museum’s pandemic closure — features many works that are large enough to overwhelm and even immerse, and enough of them to fill three galleries and spill onto a staircase and the lawn. Yet the pieces can be said to be traces in one sense: They contain vestiges of natural, personal and cultural history…

Even Sebastian Martorana’s marble sculptures — neoclassical in technique, if not subject matter — pack an environmental message, because they’re often hewed from salvaged marble.

Martorana’s gambit is to carve soft things, with exquisite realism, from hard stone. The selection here includes gloves, draped fabric and stuffed animals, notably a seemingly well-worn bear. The Teddy is not merely a sculptor’s whimsy. Titled “Permanent Separation Anxiety,” the toy embodies the artist’s objection to the U.S. government policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the Mexican border.

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