Observatory and Phantasmaphile’s Pam Grossman are proud to kick off 2010 with Vision Quest, a group show of neo-shamanic art.
A healer, a medicine (wo)man, a guide: the shaman is a figure who interfaces with nature magic and the invisible world at large, for the betterment of the tribe. Fluent in the language of symbols, and a perennial student of plant wisdom, the shaman is also a translator – bringing back messages from a place veiled thick with leaves, bones, smoke, ghosts.
This journey to the other side – to the innerside – is not just a flowery promenade of song and trance; of friendly animal spirits and ancestral reunions. For while this land is rife with vibrant, variegated beauty, it can also be a danger zone. Images of decapitation and dismemberment abound – though ultimately act as portents for personal transformation and rebirth. This shadowy terrain is trod only by those brave enough to encounter whatever may be found along the way, as each sojourn is mysterious, thoroughly unpredictable, and entirely individual. However, the results of the trip often prove invaluable, as the traveler returns armed with knowledge that will in turn illuminate and repair the community, and fortify his or her own soul.
While the role of the shaman has traditionally been fulfilled by experienced elders in indigenous groups spanning culture and time, Vision Quest posits that our artists fit the bill as well. Today, with more of us living in an urban jungle rather than a real one, it has become all the more important to figure out ways to internalize the lessons of nature: its growth, its brilliant bloom, its death. And in an age of digitization and distraction, of wire vines and humming screens, it’s no wonder we long for deeper, more sensory experiences of self – with all of its darkness and divinity.
As such, each piece in Vision Quest explores the archetype of the shamanic voyage, using the tools of paint, pencil, or paper in lieu of fire, flower, feather. Taken together this work represents a full spectrum of what it means to go underground and out of body; to go there and come back again, perhaps just a little bit wiser or, at the very least, more wide awake.
Jesse Bransford William Crump Scott Gursky Juliet Jacobsen Ashley Lande Adela Leibowitz Jason Leinwand Christopher Mir Joe Newton Herbert Pfostl Christopher Reiger Christine Shields Erika Somogyi Jessie Rose Vala
About the Curator:
Pam Grossman is the creator and editor of Phantasmaphile, the premiere online destination for art aficionados with a passion for the surreal and the fantastical. An internationally beloved art and culture web log, it features daily spotlights on artists and events, as well as interviews with such visual luminaries as Thomas Woodruff, Nils Karsten, and Richard A. Kirk. Phantasmaphile was written up two years in a row on the Manhattan User’s Guide Top 400 New York Sites list, and Grossman’s previous show, “Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists,” was featured by myriad taste-making outlets including Juxtapoz, Arthur, Upper Playground, and Neil Gaiman’s Twitter page. “VISION QUEST” is her latest curatorial effort, and she is proud to have it hanging at OBSERVATORY, the art and events space she co-founded.