Why I Like It: Art Review of The Waiting Room

The Melancholia chair and Exquisite Suffering glove tell the story of depression.

How can an inanimate object convey a sense of empathy? By sharing intimate details. Sometimes, more intimately than we are comfortable with.

Four artists work collaboratively to produce these scenes, or tableaus, in The Waiting Room - Marguerite Perret, Stephanie Lanter, Bruce Scherting, and Robin Lasser. These four artists also work with communities, collecting stories and experiences, making more objects that convey ideas. The artists put these elements together into whole scenes, what artists call installations. An installation changes the space it’s in. The arrangment of the objects can change with each exhibit. Each tableau depicts a women’s health issue. A sculptural chair represents the “patient”. Around this chair are other elements, related to some aspect of the problem.

Watching the artists working together, and talking about what they were trying to convey, was really fascinating. For the Melancholia (Depression) chair, the artists combined a Victorian fainting couch with Dr. Sigmund Freud’s study chair. Beside the chair is an ornate opera glove, covered with beadwork and dangling, tear-shaped beads. “If someone were actually wearing it, the weight of the tears would literally drag them down,” said Stephanie Lanter, who hand-crocheted the glove. “It shows the heaviness of the disease. It’s beautiful, but it doesn’t allow you to do anything.”

Melancholia glove, front view

I’ve heard people ask “What do they have to be depressed about?” And often, there isn’t any “cause” for depression, nothing to point to and say “I’m depressed about this.” Such is the case with depression. The imbalance of chemistry in the brain keeps the sufferer from shaking off the sadness. The cheerful chemicals fail to kick in. The sadness stays. And weighs.

Melancholia glove, detail

I think this glove, combined with this chair, is a visually articulate way to convey this idea.