Myth or myth-making can take many forms. Art, architecture and design have helped to fuel the domestic myth of the home as a utopia, as a blissful place, or even as a space where new technology can interface with humans and improve their world. While these notions are not universally true or false, they are worthy of discussion and thoughtful response.

In The Dark and The Day by Emily Duke, on view at the Box Gallery in Akron, is a sculptural exhibition that Duke explains “is a reflection on themes of Modern design closely looking to seminal historic objects and events: the Charles and Ray Eames walnut stool series of 1960, Eliel Saarinen’s Room for a Lady exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1934, and the archetype of the ever-evolving dressing table throughout the 1900s.”

Duke further states she is “interested in the complicated relationship between modernism and the space of the home. The mixture of these reference points has led me to the inclusion of handmade gridded ceramic tiles, light fixtures, fabrics and mirrors to emulate a utopic domestic space.”

So much of who we are develops in the home. From our sense of self and our understanding of safety and security, the home is the space in which we form many memories and self-images that shape how we interact with the world. Designers and architects like Eames and Saarinen spent their careers exploring this interface and seeking to bring quality design and beauty to our everyday spaces and objects.

Like the people whose work her art references, Duke has created an attractive and somewhat slick-looking installation that feels like you’re looking at ghosts of ideal design. In doing so, she has created work that, if you give it a moment, will remind you of spaces you’ve been in and that may even haunt your memories.

Matching Suite in Green and White, made of materials including stoneware clay, pleather, plexiglass and hardware, is a large installation that references the home, but also could evoke retail spaces. A chair form and an obelisk with a garment on a hanger sit in front of curtains with a lamp hanging down in front.

The work is too cold to be referencing someone’s bedroom but at the same time, the curtains and the lamp pull your mind in that direction. A barrier is created in the surfaces and aesthetic in this and all of the works in the show, either through the hardness of the materials, or because most of the work is formed just enough to reference a historical object yet left incomplete. It’s an interesting take, and one that not only references memory, but also time and our ability to understand our place in it.

Stool in Silhouette A, B & C (After Charles and Ray Eames) consists of three of the famous stool’s silhouettes done in white on top of a white field. Like the rest of the show, this work feels more like an echo of the potential of the originals. It’s almost as if the stools were outlined and then lost, and all we have left are the silhouettes.

The silhouettes highlight Eames’ ability to use shapes that reference mass production, tools and different cultures all in the form of a stool. It’s intriguing to look at the outlines of these objects and think of their inspiration.

Dressing Mirror is another mixed media sculpture, using mirror board and acrylic globes to create a visual reference to the dressing mirrors found in homes and salons. Again, it’s an incomplete view, leaving us all left to draw our own references and conclusions.

With online retail taking so much out of our consumer and aesthetic experiences, it’s hard not to look at a piece like this and wonder what the future will bring. Will we remember the computer as the place where beauty and design interfaced in our home? How will our home change in this vein?

Duke’s work does not necessarily ask these direct questions, but the sculpture does evoke them. This helps challenge many of our presumed notions of the home, modern design and how we interact with these spaces.

Be Good by Katelyn Evans is on display in the adjacent smaller space. It includes monoprints, a temporary wall drawing, and a special silkscreen zine made in a limited run just for the show. This exhibit came from a time when Evans had a creative block and began to write smiley faces and catch phrases to the “nothing I was creating.”

The work is brightly colored, expressive and reminiscent of styles that have come in and out of fashion over the past 50 years. The monoprint Be Good features cutout letters that form the title and a cutout green plant form, a circular orange shape, and many other brightly colored shapes that fill out the composition. While these details are somewhat simplistic, they show off a complex understanding of form and color.

Like so many shows at the Box Gallery, these two exhibits highlight the importance of this space. Having the ability to display artists living and working here is necessary. If you want to know how to support the arts in your community, visiting spaces like this is a good place to start.

Contact Anderson Turner at haturner3@gmail.com.