Kino on "Optimism Reigns and Rains" , 2005
Open the door on Marilla Palmer's work and you step into a land of enchantment--mirrored
leaves, silk and glass petals, a silvered tree shimmering in the midst
of a glistening rain cloud, a happy face smiling up into colored lights.
Her mobiles and installations can be so captivating that it's almost hard
to stop looking.
Because these pieces are made with glittery, girly elements--rhinestones,
sequins, crystal beads--it's easy to assume that Marilla's underlying
aim is over-the-top decorative kitsch. But this work isn't about decoration--it's
about using theatrical elements and sleight of hand to provoke a particular
In fact, Marilla has often talked about trying to synthesize optimism
with her work. This makes me think of the facial feedback hypothesis,
which holds that seeing a person smile can make you feel happy, too--and
standing amid the tinkling leaves and changing colors, I wonder if something
analogous happens when you look at a lovely thing.