Jade Mara Novarino

Holding on to the dear: Jade Mara Novarino and Alix Jo Ryan

Novarino and Ryan's "Winnowing" exhibition at Well Well Projects delves into attention, care, and correspondence.

Jade Mara Novarino and Alix Jo Ryan, image courtesy Well Well Projects / Mario Gallucci

The winnowing process is ancient. Early Egyptians depicted this method of separating grain from chaff, as did the Ojibwe. Winnowing baskets can be found in museums, but are still used today in farming communities worldwide. The process of separating and discarding feels distinctly human and natural, and indeed, our instinct is to winnow. We buy books on minimalism and fantasize about modest living. Forbes recommends “winnowing” our lives in response to information overload. COVID-19 complexifies this idea. What does it mean to simplify, to break down, amid isolation and ambiguity and doubt?

In Jade Mara Novarino and Alix Jo Ryan’s exhibition Winnowing at Well Well Projects, the word exemplifies a new kind of abundance. In essence, winnowing for Novarino and Ryan is to get at the heart of the thing, to uncover its usefulness. Novarino and Ryan aren’t practicing Marie Kondo-esque reduction, but rather noticing and sharing experience. Their exhibition casts a subtle, much-needed glow on the simple power of friendship, letters, natural environments, and home.