Press_Carol Kino, 2005

Carol 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 mood.

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.