Preston Wadley: Abstract Truth @ Bellevue Arts Museum

Rusty jigsaw puzzles 🧩

Published March 10, 2023

The Astounding Eyes of Rita, 2021 by Preston Wadley. An open, industrial looking book with an old black and white photo on the left page. An upside down woman gazes at the viewer
Feb 25 –
Oct 8

February 25th – October 8th

If there’s any reason to make the trek to Bellevue, it’s to see Preston Wadley’s new exhibition Abstract Truth at the Bellevue Arts Museum. The show surveys the Seattle artist’s career, featuring pieces from 2005 to 2022.

Wadley is primarily interested in how history, race, and photography can intersect and reveal truths about societal perceptions. At this show, viewers are treated to his mixed-media art books that showcase old photographs and found objects. A professor emeritus at Cornish College of the Arts, Wadley creates books that appear as if he dredged them up from the ocean’s depths. Covered in rust or bronze (it’s oxidized metal patinas and paint), his technique gives each work an ancient-like feel.

Wadley encourages viewers to make their own interpretations. “Think of your eyes as ears because I’m trying to talk to you,” he said on a recent press tour of this exhibition. In “The Astounding Eyes of Rita,” on one half of the book, there’s a portrait of a Black woman from the early 20th century placed upside down and across from a rusty-colored jigsaw puzzle. When I look at this piece, I see a distinguished woman with a gaze and history that’s a puzzle to be solved, though never quite put together. What do you see?

📸: Courtesy Bellevue Arts Museum | The Astounding Eyes of Rita, 2021 by Preston Wadley

An author pic of Jas Keimig. They have blue braids.

Jas Keimig is an arts and culture writer in Seattle. Their work has previously appeared in The Stranger, i-D, Netflix, and Feast Portland. They won a game show once and have a thing for stickers.

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