To bear witness is the psychic and moral imperative of Ann Weiner’s art. To look and not to look away, to see and to see within are the watchwords here, for artist and viewer alike. To engage this work is to be drawn into a realm of feeling that is dream-like in its evocation of the uncanny, yet visceral with emotional immediacy. We are in a space that is haunted, yet tactile and unmistakably present.

The ephemeral and the material are in constant dialogue in Weiner’s work, the ineffable held fast in the crafted talisman, the melting image of children seen through a small window in a steel door. Dualities of soft and hard, darkness and light, the imagined and the physical exist in these pieces as inescapable unities. They point to the central conundrums of Weiner’s art: loss and the persistence of memory, fate and free will, pain and renewal. Her enquiry into these existential dilemmas requires both sinking into mysteries beyond rational understanding and the artist’s faith in making them visible.

The act of making the unseen poetically visible runs through Weiner’s work, in the infant that holographically floats before our eyes, in the lenticular image that shifts our vision between two realities, and in the faces that stare out at us through layers of encaustic. For this artist, visibility also entails creating symbolic personages that then take on a life of their own. These dolls, puppets, circus performers, and children become like actors who inhabit their roles so completely that we cannot help but enter their world, which in turn is an expression of the artist’s inner life.

The words that recur in Weiner’s pieces often appear in her handwriting, burned into a steel surface. These poems, song lyrics, or nearly unintelligible script have an urgency, like a voice that has either struggled to emerge from within or has been heard mediumistically and recorded. The language in these pieces have the quality of the intuitively knowing aspect of the self, the clarity that can make feelings articulate. These words also remind us that these works are speaking the unspeakable, and that it is by descending to the depths that Weiner is able to fully realize their redemptive promise.

— John Mendelsohn

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