Little Black Book presents the first comprehensive survey of Peggy Preheim’s hauntingly delicate work. Preheim derives inspiration from both personal and historic sources. For her drawings, she uses photographs, often vintage and frequently anonymous, as well as objects (bees or flowers, for example) as source material for her imagery. Preheim works at a small, upright drafting table in her house. The tabletop is neat and tidy, and her tools—precisely sharpened pencils—are lined up in order of size. Her drawings are created directly onto the final paper, without preliminary sketches or mechanical reproduction or projection.
Preheim’s sculptures combine handmade elements—the unfired white clay figures—with materials found in thrift stores and online, such as the antique glass or the dolls and doll’s clothes. Her photography is based almost entirely on her previously made sculpture. The photographs and sculptures exist independently, although the photographs provide an additional layer of meaning to certain sculptures.
The circular nature of Preheim’s creative process—drawings based on photographs, photographs based on sculptures—finds its parallel in the content or subject matter of her work. Frequently evoking the past, childhood, nostalgia, and loss, as well as sexual awakening, Preheim’s work has many implied narratives, which are left to the viewer to fulfill. At the core of the work is memory, sometimes collective, usually intensely personal. Her work is enigmatic and poetic in its content, and always beautifully and meticulously executed.
Peggy Preheim: Little Black Book was organized by the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and curated by its director, Harry Philbrick. The exhibition was previously on view there and at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma.