Time in a box

Lara Alberti

Photo By David Robert

Artist Lara Alberti, a relative newcomer to Reno, is generating talk about her work, which focuses so much on time that it is housed in old clock cases. Her pieces are displayed at Wildflower Village Gallery, 4275 West Fourth Street (www.wildflowervillage.com). A reception for her will be held at Wildflower, Nov. 18, 5-8 p.m.

Tell me about your work.

I started out working in 1999. I started working in boxes, wooden boxes, doing constructions. A lot of my themes are based around time and serendipity, happenstance and timing. And because of that, this last spring, I was putting together a box that once again had allusions to clocks and time. I thought, well duh, why don’t I work in old clock cases? And I’ve been buying old clock cases on eBay and putting together constructions inside the clock cases. Again, with allusions not just to time but also to navigation and to the ways that we orient ourselves in the world, whether that’s using compasses or hourglasses, clocks.

Is there a word describing this kind of thing?

Yes, it’s called assemblage.

Why the fascination with boxes?

I started out a being an abstract painter, and what I found—you know, I was painting big canvasses—and what I found was that I wasn’t getting the kind of vocabulary and emotional content that I wanted. And I started out, when I changed from abstract painting to boxes, I started out making assemblage that were not in boxes. They were constructions of corrugated cardboard and bamboo, hardware cloths, lots of found objects, bits of rusted metal. And what I found that I was doing, and this is just purely personal, is that I was alluding to a space within the space that I was making. So I was making references to doors and windows. And I think that led me to the boxes because then I had both an external space and an interior space. And there’s just something about that—I like that depth. I like the tension between having something on the outside and then a space that I can create on the inside.

And what’s the fascination with time?

I just think it’s amazing. The fact that we try to measure this very ephemeral notion is a little bit absurd but also wonderful. It’s what we do with so much of our lives. We try so hard to get a grip on seemingly intangible notions in our lives. … We orient ourselves so comfortably by measuring time, and yet it is this intangible quality. Not to say that we can’t measure it very accurately, but that it’s a philosophical notion for me.

How long have you lived in Reno?

A year and two months.

How do you like it?

I love Reno. The art community is just fabulous. The whole community is just so welcoming. There’s such a strong sense of community. I’ve lived in a lot of places, I’ve lived in a lot of cities, and I’ve never felt so welcome and so comfortable in a city.

Has it affected your art?

No, I don’t think so. It may. But it’s affected my art in that I feel an enormous amount of support for it, and people have been very encouraging … and I think that being welcomed so enthusiastically has emboldened me to apply for more shows and be more out in the open about my work.