Fiberworks by Stacy Elko, Linda Rael & Susie Monday
Opening Reception: Saturday, June 1, 5:30-8:30 pm
Live Music by Cherry Street Acoustic
In COUNTERPOISE, curator Laurel Gibson has chosen works that balance idiosyncratic worlds with ‘real’ ones centered on the vulnerability of Mother Earth. They establish equilibrium between modern cultural and environmental awareness and the fantastical. Through these works, it is ok to dream, to ponder, to contemplate the mythical while remaining keenly aware of the fragility of our very existence.
Artists Stacy Elko, Linda Rael and Susie Monday symbolically transport the viewer into extraordinary worlds in which fish become flying bomb-ships embossed with hennaed North African symbols; shamans emerge from embellished skulls and bones that signify rebirth; and La Sirena and other powerful figures emit mysterious messages. These artworks function as visual stories and embody, as defined by Josef Campbell, the four key elements of mythology: mystical, cosmological, sociological, and pedagogical. The mystical is the awakening of a sense of wonder and participation in the universe. The cosmological functions to fill every particle of the current world image with a mystical one. The sociological is validated through moral systems and cultural customs. The pedagogical is the passage of life through childhood into maturity. Symbols, materials and life experiences create the mythological stories surrounding the viewer.
Susie Monday’s Grief and Apocalypse #2 are part of a series that utilizes symbolic imagery to explore the “the upheaval that accompanies the inevitable death of a parent.” The scale of these works allows the viewer to walk into the life-sized imagery of dismembered arms floating in a mermaid sea above the moon. Chaos erupts in this vividly colored textile ‘painting’ pieced together from dyed, printed, recycled and altered fabrics.
Fish Bomb Boats by Stacy Elko, constructed of flexible cane and handmade paper inscribed with African iconography, transport the viewer to another world experience filled with wonder, danger and adventure. Reflecting on social conditions though work with the Peace Corps and the Boys and Girls Club, Elko states, “They engender a mythos that projects fragility of existence with environmental collaboration for survival . . . My art continues the journey of rebirth through building structures that symbolize that our ephemeral relationship with the environment and remind us to consider our actions therein.”
Vulture by Linda Rael, constructed of a vulture’s skull and hand-dyed fabrics, embroidery, beads, feathers, botanicals and glass eyes, embodies sculpture as spiritual totem. These mystical creations, informed by natural surroundings, petroglyphs, and animals and sages, must find their place within the world. “I find this relationship,” Rael maintains, “is more important than ever given the environmental challenges we face this century.”
Transported through imagination these powerful works of art move us to confront the universe and fill it with our own stories, mysteries and mythologies, and to weigh the symbolic world against the bounds of reality.
COUNTERPOISE, scheduled to coincide with the Surface Design International Conference in San Antonio, opens with a reception, which is free and open to the public, on Saturday, June 1, from 5:30-8:30, and continues through July 6. The gallery is open Fridays and Saturdays, 1-4 pm, with extended hours during the conference on June 6-9. This exhibit is funded in part by the City of San Antonio Department of Culture and Creative Development. Bihl Haus Arts (www.bihlhausarts.org), located at Primrose at Monticello Park Apartments, is the only non-profit professional art gallery on the premises of 100% senior affordable housing in the U.S. Bihl Haus Arts sponsors include the WellMed Charitable Foundation, the San Antonio Area Foundation, the Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation, the Shield-Ayres Foundation, the San Antonio Junior Forum, and Primrose. For more information, 210.383.9723