Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Harriet Casdin-Silver dies

Brookline artist Harriet Casdin-Silver, a trailblazer and innovator, who was internationally known for her magical holograms, died Sunday after a brief illness. She was 83.

Casdin-Silver began making holograms in the late 1960s. DeCordova Museum curator (and now acting director) Nick Capasso trumpeted her as “America’s foremost art holographer” and “a pioneer of the art-and-technology movement of the second half of the twentieth century” when the museum mounted a retrospective of her work in 1998.

She hoped the novelty of the medium would attract an audience for her political statements – in particular, feminist ones.

“A lot of people use light to get technical effects,” Casdin-Silver told me when I wrote about her last show at Gallery NAGA, exactly a year ago. “That was never my mission. My mission was to help women grow in every way – psychologically, sociologically, and in believe in themselves. And I taught too, so I did reach a lot of women.”

She had kept a studio at Fort Point Channel since 1985, but had to move out at the end of January as the building was being transformed by new owners.

“I may just quit," Casdin-Silver told me a year ago. "But I can’t quit. My work keeps me going.”

But she was drained by the move. She fell ill with the flu, which turned into pneumonia, and landed her in the hospital for her final two and a half weeks.

A memorial service is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. tomorrow at Forsyth Chapel at Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain.

Gallery NAGA, which had an exhibition of her self-portraits scheduled for June, still plans to present that show but with the addition of a celebration of her life.

Pictured: Harriet Casdin-Silver’s 1999 self-portrait “Harriet Casdin-Silver,” white light transmission hologram with audio dome.


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