The (Dis)order of 'Things': Roanoke College Show Muses On How We Arrange Our Lives

Richard Pasquarelli’s exhibit at Roanoke College concerns itself with obsessive order, with ruminations on disorder.

Richard Pasquarelli's "Self Portrait No. 1" (2019) is part of the show The Things We Are at Roanoke College's Olin Hall Galleries. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

An Instagram account I follow, @thingsorganizedneatly is precisely that – a regular, and somewhat fetishistic catalog of quixotic organization.

A cursory glance through the account’s posts reveals wigs organized by color gradient, stacks of pennies arranged in dense, zig-zagging geometry, and an assemblage of denim and boots that calls to mind synchronized swimming. To see ordinary but alike objects arranged so carefully has an effect both beautifully evocative and a bit suffocating, similar to how I feel in the presence of a topiary.

Richard Pasquarelli’s current exhibition at Roanoke College’s Olin Hall Galleries titled The Things We Are similarly concerns itself with obsessive order, counterbalanced with ruminations on disorder. Throughout the show, Pasquarelli suggests that obsessive compulsion underlies and links both order and disorder relative to the objects, or “things,” that accumulate and mark our lives.