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Gabrielle
Rossmer

Born 1938, Bamberg, Germany
Works in Boston, MA

Year created: 
2000
Between Heaven and Earth, Gabrielle Rossmer
Click images for larger view

6' x 3' x 2'

Acrylic resin, gypsum, fiberglass, cloth, aluminum
Lent by the Artist; site-specific installation

No longer on view.

When she was one year old, Gabrielle Rossmer's parents escaped as refugees from Nazi Germany and brought her to the United States. Her grandparents and others in their community remained, soon to fall victims to the Holocaust. Although she is adamant that her body of works should remain "open to the interpretation of the viewer," it remains true that much of her work is informed by a fervent desire to engage with the experiences—both tragic and life-affirming—of her close and more distanced family. By collecting, creating and displaying expressive objects, Rossmer strives to give physical and emotional substance to ancestral memory.

Between Heaven and Earth, created expressly for its current site within a grove of tall pines, emerges into view with the silent grace of an apparition. Twice-life sized, the sculpture resembles a hollow funeral shroud, or bandages wrapped tight as a cocoon around an invisible female wearer. Many aspects of the piece work together to enhance its ghostly ephemerality: its inflated size, its liminal suspension between ground and sky, the dancing light as it filters through the trees, and its ethereal, perhaps ancient, pallor. A circle of bricks beneath the specter hint at a fire-pit, or even a crematorium. Yet unlike rising smoke—echoed by the shroud's ripples of stiffened cloth—this specter does not dissipate, it remains instead a solid, solemn presence. In the quiet of the clearing, Rossmer's installation provides an intimate space for her symbolic reincarnation of a lost, but not forgotten, soul.