Four women artists;
Lucy Slivinski (Chicago), Lauren McIntosh (Berkley), Alison Saar (Los Angeles) and Kishi Kiori (Osaka)
March thru April 2006, Lower Gallery
Salvage can be waste but "to salvage" is to save. To salvage from salvage is the ardor of love Used as an active verb "salvage" begins to describe Lucy Slivinsky's work. What a wondrous path she travels, somehow balancing her delicate line with the strength of her constructs. The poetry of her choices (metaphor, allusion, analogy, absurdity), the wizardry of shaping apparently disparate or intractable material (crocheted open work of rusted wire and springs, monumental volumes created from the cast-off innards of washing machines, hundreds of bike frames piled randomly, twisted clothes hangers from the cleaners transformed into an appealing bouquet.)
Just so, Kishi Kaori somehow manages to compress wool of vivid colors which is itself tortured and squeezed, sometimes even thinned into transparency, sometime, somehow, eased into volume. The results are always surprising, delightful and energized.
Our favorite sculptor for many years has been Alison Saar and thanks to the return of an extended museum loan we are able to exhibit one very important sculpture Dark Roots. This poignant piece is actually about "being light skinned and being entangled in this African or Africa-American history and having a Black history although you might be light skinned. It's basically a White figure that is co-joined with this Black figure that's covered with this tar and the tar is washing down and running over and coloring her." (Alison Saar, 2000) Wow! She goes onto say that they are dreaming of each other, and if they are, the one is always present in the other. A level of racial awareness, and concern ("Mammy's Whammy" is actually a dress crocheted, by Alison, out of the hair of an African American woman) is an omnipresent current in her work. Even the "Sable Venus" in its iconic splendor is not without a caustic underpinning: the ominous dry vestiges of long-buried creatures, illustrations of past civilizations cut from decaying encyclopedias, densely collaged on a painted black ground a clearly sarcastic contrast to the exquisitely rendered living and sexual woman of color.
Lauren McIntosh's female figures are lively, graceful, exquisite and also duplicitous. Dressed in the manner of 18th century France, renaissance Italy or colonial Mexico, surrounded by flora and fauna that are painted, drawn or collaged onto, or into, the painted gauche paper, they combine a kind of feminine equipoise with something ominous or macabre Do we see disease in progress? Is her body present or is she ephemeral? An x-ray or solid flesh? Certainly, something emblematic or symbolic floats across or in the environment we're spying on (yes, one does feel like one has accidentally come upon the scene reminiscent of the feeling one has when viewing Henri Rousseau). A black swan, a dragon fly, a piece of fruit, a butterfly, glide by as they defy, scale space and perspective.
We are viewing layers of space transparencies, and translucencies interrupt solid form, the fauna, frequently in slow motion seem to emphasize the calligraphy both woven into the tapestry (one thinks of The Unicorn here) and floating to the surface. There is reason in its mystery whether legible or not and its exquisite rendering echoes the precision of the draftsmanship present throughout.