Rose's piece is an eight-minute video that "mines themes and imagery from the history of children’s literature to create a dream-like story about loneliness, imagination, and longing for personal connection," reads the CMOA description. The video incorporates aspects of collage, animation, and soundscapes. The concept is a first for the museum, which has never had an exclusively online exhibit. But Eric Crosby, director of CMOA, says it's a concept he has been "considering for some time." "We have an incredible collection of film and video artworks, only some of which are on view in the galleries," says Crosby. "Video works have the unique ability to function in an online presentation."
Lake Valley was first shown by the museum during the 2018 Carnegie International. Rose's piece uses illustrations taken from 19th-century children's books, brought to life through cel animation, to create layered visuals that come together one piece at a time. The video begins with the creation of a collage, which, upon zooming out, is revealed to be a painting in a home. In that home, there are two dreamers: one a teenage girl, and the other a house pet with characteristics of a rabbit, a rat, and a dog. When she sleeps, the girl dreams of floating mid-air, and of water under a full moon. When the little animal runs into the forest and falls asleep, it dreams of meeting other wild critters.
The whole piece is bright and colorful, oddly satisfying to watch, like the perfect way an animated egg cracks or the pot of boiling water is made up of navy blue bubbles. The collage layers overlap, rapidly creating scenery and then papering over with something new just as quickly. The accompanying sounds, both musical and natural background noises, are eerie and melancholy. There is a tone of loneliness that runs through Lake Valley — Crosby calls the piece "a perfect fit for this moment," and says the themes of the piece are especially relevant to being stuck at home.
"Lake Valley is an artwork that speaks directly to our collective quarantine experience — the video tells a story about loneliness, imagination, and longing for personal connection," says Crosby. "Everyone can find something to identify with in Rose’s deeply imaginative animation, especially given the challenges of our present moment."
To take advantage of the creativity of Lake Valley, CMOA is incorporating virtual, family-friendly activities to go along with the exhibit. There are art activities on the website with prompts like drawing your own version of a strange pet, or creating a collage setting. On June 17, CMOA will host a free virtual drawing workshop inspired by the exhibit.
There are more, yet-to-be-announced online exhibits planned after Lake Valley, and Crosby says that CMOA plans to continue the series even once the physical museum is able to open.
"In this moment while our doors are closed, our audience has grown and expanded across the country," says Crosby. "The online exhibition series is essential as we rethink the traditional museum experience to include a strong online component."
Lake Valley, Carnegie Museum of Art, cmoa.org/exhibition/rachel-rose