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Brent Birnbaum, “Snakes and Ladders,” 29.5 in. x 23.5 in.

The Arts

Brent Birnbaum, Christin Ripley debut exhibition at Epsilon Spires

The gallery is open by appointment. Further information on this exhibition and other programming can be found at

BRATTLEBORO—Artist Brent Birnbaum’s new body of work will be on view at Epsilon Spires with a socially-distanced opening reception on Friday, Sept. 18 and by appointment until Friday, Nov. 6.

Birnbaum’s latest series of assemblages is composed of board games that the artist systematically deconstructed into hundreds of smaller “spaces,” which he then recombined in collage.

He began by cutting the pathways and territories out from existing games to break the set logic of the boards and then created the final compositions through a combination of chance and intervention by dropping the pieces from a great height and then adjusting them slightly by hand to achieve a final harmony.

“The vivid colors and textures of the original boards invite the familiar excitement of gameplay from memory while chutes, ladders, and checkered blocks lay out strange circuitous passages with unclear arrivals,” Epsilon Spires writes in a news release.

“Table games often hold a miniature mirror to the processes of life. Since ancient times, people have invented board games and learned to inhabit their small worlds of rules to find loss, gain, and sudden twists of fate unfold before them.”

In his statement for the upcoming show, Birnbaum asks, “What has your path in life looked like? How much control did you have despite your environment?”

Cloth interactive sculptures, hand-marbled pillows

Hudson Valley–based artist Christin Ripley brings “REST,” her signature series of cloth interactive sculptures and hand-marbled pillows to Epsilon Spires.

“While the swirling marbled surfaces of the pieces in REST recall stone, the soft-filled fabric forms defy their pattern’s namesake with cuddly pliability,” the gallery writes.

“The helix, rod, and arc shapes of the individual pillows are aesthetically striking, but also beckon the extra-visual senses as their curves invite touch. These objects were designed to be moved, leaned into, laid across, and held.”

Ripley describes the pieces in REST as “comfort objects,” and their body-supporting contours are intuitively recognizable, ensuring it does not take long to find a seat or cuddle in their embrace. In contrast to much contemporary design, Ripley’s studio practice employs traditional craft techniques like relief printing, woodworking, and sewing.

The artist states that she works to “create functional objects with the soul of artworks, and artworks with the craftsmanship and fabrication precision of functional design objects.”

“Ripley’s series will be exhibited alongside Birnbaum’s deconstructed board games,” the gallery says. “The shapes of Ripley’s pillows echo the pathways and arrival points of the games in Birnbaum’s work, and as gallery-goers sit on the pillows to reflect on the collages, they will be encompassed in an environment of playful combination and color.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #578 (Wednesday, September 9, 2020). This story appeared on page B1.

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