Carefully etching memories into memories is how artist Denise Tassin layers heart, soul and skill in “Solo NECCO,” a colorful, impressive, and, yes, bizarre exhibition in which she uses the all-American candy NECCO wafer as her canvas.
In her first San Francisco exhibition at Zinc Details, the Maryland-based artist conveys nostalgic moments via a Micron pen into the delicate surfaces of the confections.
“Everything is sort of plucked from a particular place, from my own narrative,” Tassin says.
The inspiration for “Solo NECCO” hails back to when Tassin and her brother would exercise their Catholic upbringing by staging mock communion ceremonies. In lieu of the traditional Eucharist communion wafer, Tassin and her brother used NECCO wafers.
Tassin also has sought out other nonconventional canvasses in paying homage to memories. Mentioning her penchant for “really tiny intimate things that are handheld,” Tassin’s artistic surfaces have included guitar picks, index tabs and rubber tire repair disks.
“The wonderful thing about NECCO wafers is that you can put them in your pocket and all you need is a Sharpie or pencil,” Tassin says. When she worked on her Death Valley series in the “Solo NECCO” show, Tassin was actually in Death Valley, sitting amid the sand dunes.
Biology images also regularly pop up in Tassin’s artwork, primarily because of her longtime love for the field; in college, she was torn between majoring in biology and art.
Many of the drawings in this collection look like something from a slide positioned underneath a microscope or a specimen floating in a Petri dish. Some images could be an amoeba or a paramecium.
“The best color for me is green because it’s so suggestive of landscapes and science,” the artist says.
In a tangential element of the show, there are designs from the Christmas edition of a 1966 McCall’s catalog, commemorating Tassin’s birth in October of that year.
Gallery visitors can take home a NECCO wafer etched with one of Tassin’s designs.
Where: Zinc Details, 2410 California St., San Francisco
When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; noon to 6 p.m. Sundays; closes Oct. 31
Contact: (415) 776- 9002 or www.zincdetails.com