SEPTEMBER 16 -OCTOBER 27, 2007
IN ANSWER TO HER PRAYERS, to understand the suffering of Christ as he was dying on the cross, St. Theresa of Avila was given the experience of an angel piercing her heart with a golden arrow. Seventy years after her death, Bernini read her account of this experience and created his Ecstasy of St. Theresa in an effort to depict in visual form St. Theresa’s personal apparition. In this exhibition, it was our intention to assemble works that attempt to make visible that which may not only be invisible, but also intimately personal.
Some of the artists in this exhibition build on the tradition of Spirit Photography conceived in the mid 1800’s with the advent of Spiritualism. Those photographic shams and darkroom tricks seemed to capture proof of spirit apparitions and have become how the ghostly is perceived in vernacular thought. John Zirkelbach’s gothic imagery expands on this convention and brings our nightmares into the light. Carol Quint focuses on our more primal horror of death and the corpse.
Other works have their roots in the ideas of Blake, Fuseli, Redon or even Rothko, where the work is of personal visions, the psychological or, as in the case of Peter Davis, an ascendant spiritualism. Katherine Sehr and Ana Maria Delgado approached the subject as a meditation. Delgado’s is the more traditional of the two, with her invocation of the Ave Maria, while Sehr’s nearly becomes a Zen exercise in patience and perseverance, as she covers the page with her granular line. Much like a shaman, Shawn Taylor conjures a totem animal out of bits of flotsam. We see it in the act of sublimation, out of the dust into solid form.
Matt Pych doesn’t reach for the supernatural at all with his brightly colored still lifes of toys and flowers. Instead he challenges our way of seeing by pouring a viscous, transparent liquid in front of the camera lens, which we then must see though. It is this change in our visual reality that creates the apparition. Marc Valega takes the whole idea tongue in cheek; perhaps suggesting it is all a drug induced fantasy.
From agnostic to nirvana; from the floor sweepings of Taylor to our highest power as petitioned by Delgado, the artists have led us on a journey through this elusive and shape shifting apparitional landscape. It is the artists, as always, who have shown us how expansive and inclusive this landscape can be. From them we learn to recognize our fears, give shape to our dreams and that the universe is one.
Arthur Bruso and Raymond E. Mingst, curators © 2007 Curious Matter used with permission
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