“Pathways”—a Carroll Square Gallery exhibit of works by three recent graduates of George Mason University’s MFA program—is unusually small, but strikingly brainy. The exhibit’s three artists—Sarah Irvin, Anne Smith, and Sarah Zuckerman Dolan—offer just four works combined, but each is notably thoughtful.
Dolan painstakingly arranges hand-woven copper wire into a sprawling yet fragile sculpture. One end takes the shape of a radiating labyrinth; it eventually spins off into intestine-like kinks, before dashing straight up a wall, heading toward the light from an exterior window. (Perhaps this final sprint is the source of the work’s name, Lengsel, which is Norwegian for “longing,” although the piece ultimately seems to present more of a balance between order and chaos.)
The delicate curves in her work call to mind the hand-drawn, repetitive lines of Linn Meyers, but Dolan had to cope with the added hardship of wrangling a bunch of fussy, coiled wire. Despite being made of metal, the work seems as tenuous as a Tibetan sand painting.
Smith, meanwhile, offers a monumental, 27-foot-long scroll decorated with a thin stripe of inked impressions, suggesting a cash-register tape with pink markings to denote the end of the roll. The idea behind the impressions is to suggest the notion of printing something ad infinitum, but the more elegant facet of the work is that it’s propped up mid-roll just at its most vulnerable spot, where the printing lightens, almost to the point of disappearing—an embodiment, perhaps, of traveling from health to sickness and then back to health again thanks to a well-timed intervention.
Finally, Irvin offers two prints that grapple with her paternal grandfather’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Her idea is to write a single word in ink on paper (think glossy fingerpainting paper) and then squeegee it until it disappears—an approximation of her grandfather’s growing mental fog. That method may seem a bit obvious, but it nonetheless produces elegantly subtle shadings and splotches.
Through Aug. 26 at Carroll Square Gallery, 1515 14th St. NW. 202-234-5601. Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.–6 p.m.