Hollis Sigler MMoCA Collects

You Worry About Its Success

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Hollis Sigler, You Worry About Its Success, oil on canvas, 1987.
Hollis Sigler. © Estate of Hollis Sigler.

We look down into a nighttime back yard with a screen door opened into the house at the left. With the artificial lighting and trees bracketing our view, the scene before us seems like a stage set. Awaiting the entrance of actors and actresses, a round table is formally prepared with tablecloth, two plates, and wine glasses. A bottle of wine and a cake stand suggest that dessert is waiting. The yellow orb of a full moon is echoed in a string of white lanterns festooned in the trees, illuminating the prepared table and chairs in a spotlight of bright yellow encircled with radiant reds.

Hollis Sigler presents her scene in vibrant colors and childlike drawing. There is a magical air to the night. It is a moment of expectation. Who is the hostess? Who is the guest? Where are they and when will they arrive? The title of the painting is written in delicate script at the top center of the composition. It is the voice of the hostess who is concerned that all will go right. Her worries become ours in this poignant scene of human affections. The preparations are loving, but the darkened house and absence of any human presence veil our anticipations with anxiety. All may not turn out as expected.

Sigler's paintings are always empty of people. Her settings and objects are private metaphors for her emotional states of mind. In her imaginative universe, things may be personal, familial, medical, or political symbols. Sigler was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985 and died from the disease in 2001. Given this biographical fact, the title of the painting, You Worry About Its Success, hauntingly suggests the artist's personal meditation on the immediate circumstances of her life.