New art gallery displays ‘Cognitive Dissonance’

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Ceramics and other sculptures exhibited at the Carroll House Art Gallery

Ryan Loredo

Equinox Staff


Cognitive dissonance is the feeling of uncomfortable tension between two conflicting ideas at the same time.

This can be true when two people are opposing each other in debate, when one person says to go right when the other says left. There is only one way to go, however: your own way.  Gregory Bailey, assistant art sculpture professor at Connecticut College, explores the idea in his sculpture gallery titled “Cognitive Dissonance 3/1” at the Carroll House Art Gallery, which opened Thursday, March 24.

“This is the second in the series of installations that I’ve been working on and it’s called ‘Cognitive Dissonance 3/1’ and the first one was called ‘Cognitive Dissonance,’” Bailey said.

Bailey is presenting three sculptures in his exhibit. One piece titled “Know Your Mind/Edward Bernays” is made up of several spinning plaster forearms connected by the elbows to two other arms with hands in the different “rock, paper, scissors” finger positions.

There are several hands attached to spinning mechanisms making the hands connect with each other like machine cogs. The room in which the sculptures are turning in is pitch-black and the entrance is protected from light by a thick black tarp. The hands are able to glow in the dark so when one enters the room, one will only see the hands turning in what seems like mid-air.

“Oh, [I’m] very proud, couldn’t be prouder [of his student’s work.]”

-Paul McMullen
KSC ceramics professor

“So this is like a decision making process and rock paper scissors is actually a competitive game now and people get into [it] almost like poker being able to read their opponent in a way,” Bailey said.

Interestingly, the hands are plaster molds of the artist’s own hands, which also relates to the theme of the gallery. “You can’t really do that [play rock, paper, scissors] by yourself, all you do I second guess [yourself].”

Another piece in the gallery, titled “Self Portrait as Food,” is a sculpture of Bailey wearing winter clothing which has been cut open to reveal the cutting and removal of the sculpture’s muscles.

“One of the aspects of cognitive dissonance is that the population keeps going up and our food production has been able to keep up with that fairly well, until recently,” he said.

“So if you start thinking about what that means, and [as] the population continues to go up, is food production going to go up? So you have this aspect of something is going to give, you can’t base infinite growth on a finite planet,” Bailey said.

In addition, Bailey said,“There’s been lots of cases in the past when people get to a certain point they will eat each other.”

“So here I’ve been actually hunted and I’ve been shot, and my large muscle areas have been removed quickly by someone who was in a hurry and I was just left.”

The third piece, “The Pit and the Pendulum,” is situated next to “Self Portrait as Food.”

The sculpture is a mechanized Titanic model ship swinging back and forth like a pendulum via a system of motors and rods.

“This is a model of the Titanic and this is based on the ‘Pit and the Pendulum’, and if you remember in that story the main character is searching his cell and he falls down and his chin is resting on the pit,” Bailey said.  “The idea of the pit or the well is a continuing theme of my work.”

Viewers should note the sculpture has taped markings on the floor indicating the range of motion for the piece.

KSC students also presented their own ceramic works of art in the gallery. One student, Erin McHugh, commented on her on-wall artwork saying, “I’ve been abroad last winter, so I’ve just been working a lot with travel and my desire to live in other places, travel the world, and our connections with people in other countries with flight paths and stuff like that. So it’s an abstraction on that idea.”

KSC ceramics professor Paul McMullan commented on his student’s works saying, “Oh [I’m] very proud, couldn’t be prouder [of  student’s work].”

Students were able to examine the sculptures by Bailey in the gallery. Samantha Pratt commented on Bailey’s “Know Your Mind/ Edward Bernays.”

“I think the black and white piece is really neat. He was talking more about, on the talk he had yesterday, it was about pointing fingers per se on the oil spill and all these other problems that are happening,” she said.

KSC student Dana Ward, who had his own art work presented at the gallery, commented on Bailey’s work.

“I think they’re great. I definitely don’t think they’re way over-the-top even though he definitely took a chance. It’s nothing that you don’t see in the movies; he’s just trying to get it out to the public,” Ward said.

Carroll House will host the gallery through April 16. The open hours are Wednesday through Saturday from  12 to 5 p.m.


Ryan Loredo can be contacted at

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