Phantasmagoria
JANUARY 8 - FEBRUARY 28, 2021

Free and open to the public.

Artist Statement:
Phantasmagoria (fan-ˌtaz-mə-ˈgȯr-ē-ə)
Noun

1. a sequence of real or imaginary images like those seen in a dream.
2. an exhibition of optical effects and illusions
3. a bizarre or fantastic combination, collection, or assemblage
4. a confusing or strange scene that is like a dream because it is always changing in an odd way

Phantasmagoria is about memories of Portsmouth-- my own, those of my family and others’, as well as the murky divide between memory and imagination, science and magic. How can we express the memories that are most dear to us, or the emotions a place creates in us when we only have the everyday objects that surround us to communicate notions that are indescribably dear?

Though I did not grow up in Portsmouth, I visited here so frequently throughout my childhood and teenage years that I feel crucial parts of me did. My great-grandmother lived here, and my grandparents lived nearby in Exeter. My favorite childhood memories are Peter Pan in Prescott park and the historical reenactments at Strawbery Banke. I love the pumpkin pancakes at The Friendly Toast so much that my family took me there after I graduated from high school.

When we are in a place, we see it as it is now, but through a lens clouded with all the times we have been there before. It’s as if a parade of the ghosts of ourselves dances before us. I feel that just because something is a phantom, does not that mean that it is not real, but it means that it was so real to us once that it lingers on past the point of being tangible. Unable to be destroyed by the entropy of time, it lovingly haunts the alleyways and corridors of our minds, becoming a ray of light or echoing tune in the otherwise still quarters where we keep our histories tucked away.

This show is not intended to be a full or accurate depiction of Portsmouth by any means, but is intended to be a glimpse into my own perspective of the town. I hope throughout the exhibition, you will join me in contributing your own memories of Portsmouth as well. 2020 has been odd and often lonely for many of us, but in the same way our lives have changed and adapted, they will continue to do so into, hopefully, brighter days. I invite you to share your stories of love, happiness, peaceful moments and triumphs, so we can populate my little town with all manner of lovely memories. Remember: all good moments in time are never lost- they merely turn into a kind of dormant magic, waiting to be conjured up whenever we need joy the most.


Mia Rollins Bio:
Mia Rollins was born in Nashville, TN in 1995. Though she grew up in the South, at the age of fifteen, Rollins moved to the Northeast to pursue a career in competitive figure skating. During her last years of high school and her subsequent time at Brown University in Providence, RI, Rollins made frequent trips to the Portsmouth area to visit her grandparents. Her husband now lives in Portland, Maine.

From 2018 to 2019, Mia taught elementary school visual art at the Episcopal School of Nashville. Her time as a teacher gave her great interest in how children tackle questions about identity and place through their perception of artworks and their own creations. Rollins's work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including the 2019 Art of the South exhibition at Memphis College of Art, and her collaborative show with artist Ali L. El-Chaer, Seven Voyages, at Studio 66 Gallery in Nashville, TN. She has received numerous awards and grants including the Joslin Award for Excellence in Art and the Marlene Malick Sculpture Award. Rollins is currently based in Providence, RI where she is pursuing an M.F.A. in Sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design.

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