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S.P.A.C.E. Gallery Conjures a Witchy Exhibition

By SADIE WILLIAMS

On Friday, May 5, a band of witches will take over the S.P.A.C.E. Gallery on Pine Street in Burlington. That’s right, witches. Kind of.

The show, titled “Conjuring: She Rises,” is a group effort loosely curated by artists Beth Robinson, Jules Polk, Morgan Stark and Athena Kafantaris. “Curated” in the sense that those four women created the theme and selected the artists, but they aren’t exerting much influence beyond that.

Timed to coincide with the 325th anniversary of the Salem witch trials, the show connects the archetype of the witch to feminism through performance, real-time rituals, paintings, sculptures, photographs and video installation.

Each artist has contributed content that indicates a highly personal and political motivation for participating. Whether it’s a display of wands or photographs of all-female ceremonies deep in the woods, the work is decidedly feminist and steeped in ritual. It proclaims creative female power in its many forms.

Robinson is known for her line of Strange Dolls, meticulously crafted figures with macabre costumes and makeup. The seed for “Conjuring” sprouted last year, she said, when Polk bought one of her creations. Polk collects kitchen witches — small dolls intended to ward off evil spirits — and thought Robinson’s doll would fit right in.

"Lady of Lethe” by Beth Robinson

“Lady of Lethe” by Beth Robinson

Soon after, Polk proposed a show about kitchen witches and asked Robinson to curate it. The latter artist, who organizes the annual “Art of Horror” exhibition every October at S.P.A.C.E., said yes. Just not in the fall.

October passed, and then came the general election, and Donald Trump became the president-elect. Suddenly, the proposed show took on a whole new purpose: showcasing female power.

Two weeks after the election, Polk and Robinson met with Kafantaris and Stark. “We hashed it out a little and realized that this whole idea of a witch hunt that’s going on in the world right now is perfectly applicable,” Robinson said. “So we decided to get 13 [women] artists — a coven of artists — making work based on that theme.”

The “coven” doesn’t view the witch hunt as a simple metaphor. The artists draw a clear line from the historical persecution of healers, single women and females in general — under the umbrella term “witch” — to the manner in which the current administration incites hatred of immigrants and people of color, as well as disrespects women.

“Ashes I” by Athena Kafantaris

“Ashes I” by Athena Kafantaris

As Kafantaris put it, “Instead of fear of [women] copulating in the woods with demons, we have xenophobia.”

Polk weighed in on the subject over email. “A witch hunt is the Muslim ban,” she wrote. “A witch hunt is hunting down illegal immigrants for sport. A witch hunt is when your life and liberty are threatened because you are classified as hysterical.”

She concluded: “We overclassify people as ‘other’ and tend to take their rights away.”

“Conjuring” is perhaps the first show of its kind in Vermont, but witches are hardly new in art or feminism. Proponents of the latter have often touted the totem of the witch. A late ’60s activist group called Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy From Hell — or W.I.T.C.H. — dedicated itself to overthrowing the patriarchy with a variety of witch-themed political stunts. These included a group hex on New York’s financial district on Halloween in 1968.

Recently, a new branch of W.I.T.C.H. surfaced in Portland, Ore. It has adopted a slew of names that yield the acronym and penned a manifesto that claims the word “witch” for all those deemed “other” by a patriarchal and oppressive society.

In many ways, the witchy elements of “Conjuring” are in line with that manifesto. An excerpt reads: “A witch is a fearsome creature, inspiring terror and awe, channeling a primal, visceral energy in the name of peace, progress, justice and harmony. A witch is a conduit for transformation. A witch taps into the power within and harnesses the power without in service of a better world.”

The concept of internal power resonates with the organizers of the S.P.A.C.E. exhibit. As she explored her art practice post-election, Kafantaris said, “I went harder back into what’s true in my life. I went into the woods, where the noise receded. I felt more sure of myself and what I believe in that dip of faith.”

”Momento Mori” by Annika Rundberg

”Momento Mori” by Annika Rundberg

One project that arose from her inward retreat was a series called “Ashes,” for which Kafantaris videotaped women responding physically to the concept of “rebirth and regrowth after devastation.” Footage and stills from that shoot will appear in “Conjuring.” The image used to promote the show, of five women dressed in black, holding hands and encircling a tree, comes from Kafantaris’ series.

For her part, gallery owner Christy Mitchell recounts a recent compulsion to craft a ritual related to personal power. “I had to let go of something,” she said, “so I went to the lake and asked, ‘What am I supposed to do?'”

That experience resulted in videos and images that are also part of “Conjuring.” They address the question Mitchell asked herself during her experience: “Can we conjure power from within ourselves without knowing how to do it?”

Robinson is contributing a series of dolls titled “Madonna Whores.” They explore Sigmund Freud’s theory of the Madonna-whore complex, which holds that men can’t love what they desire or desire what they love. The dolls are depicted in various stages of restraint, silenced by ball gags, masks and duct tape. Anne Sexton’s “Buying the Whore” poem is inscribed on their pale bodies.

In addition to the work on the walls, the opening reception for “Conjuring” will offer multiple performances. Kafantaris will perform as the elaborately costumed Throat of the Loon. The Accaliae, a theatrical belly-dancing group, will appear, and Stark will lead a ritual ceremony.

Other participating artists include Wylie Sofia Garcia, Leslie Fry, Sarah Vogelsang-Card, Meredith Muse, Nyx Black, Melaney Pettini, Leslie Roth, Annika Rundberg and Nikki Laxar.


Originally Published: MAY 03, 2017
Link to original article 

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A multi media show organized by female artists for female artists, “Conjuring: She Rises”, came together in honor of the 325 anniversary of the Salem Witch Trials. Women throughout the ages have and continue to struggle with finding their voices as powerful agents of change within society. We created this show to honor a gathering of our vibrant and powerful voices as modern day female artists working and living in Vermont.

Participating artists include:
Christy Mitchell
Beth Robinson
Leslie Frye
Wylie Garcia
Meredith Muse
Sarah Vogelsang-Card
Morgan Stark
Nyx Black
Athena Kafantaris
Melaney Pettani
Leslie Roth
Nikki Laxar
Annika Rundberg

With administrative help from Abigail Feldman.

 

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Thanks to Eva Sollberger for this great segment that covers our Art of Horror opening reception. Also feel free to check out our facebook page for photos from opening night: https://www.facebook.com/spacegalleryvt.

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The Art of Horror opening night was a great success with a turnout that could be best be described as a “crowd.” The walls were packed with work that spanned the range of Halloween whimsy to truly dark compulsions. The place was teeming with Halloween candy & cupcakes, digestible spirits and attendees of all ages dressed up for the occasion.

No one can believe that we do not charge an entry fee for the event. Yes, you can come to the biggest party of the year at the gallery, have your cards read, eat as many cupcakes and Halloween candy as you can stuff in your mouth, drink wine and beer and enjoy! What we do ask for in return is for you to consider buying art to support the artists – who are the reason the event exists in the first place! The prices are extremely reasonable, if you love a piece, consider living with it.

The gallery is open Thursday to Saturday from 11am to 4pm. The show will be up through the end of the month. We hope you will come by!

Video from Art of Horror 2012 Opening reception – Burlington, VT

 

In the Backspace Gallery we projected visuals from the movie “Mutant Girls Squad” by Noboru Iguchi:

 

Slideshow from Opening Night

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THE ART OF HORROR

Opening Reception:
Friday, October 5 from 5-9pm

The S.P.A.C.E. Gallery and The Backspace Gallery
266 Pine Street, Suite 105 and 106
Burlington, Vermont

For the last three years my boyfriend and I have been the guest curators for the “Art of Horror” at S.P.A.C.E. This is a juried show where we invite the public to submit works of art that best represent the theme. We fill two gallery spaces with the selections and for First Friday Art Walk in October, open this exhibition to the public.

In addition to the sinister (and yet delightful) visuals we want to share, we are happy to announce that Holly Lukens will be on hand to read your cards and tell you what the future will bring, we will have a Day of the Dead shrine devoted to the legacy of artists who have passed (bring an item to share!), and meet the artists who create these fascinating works of art. The after-party will include a movie that is suitably distasteful.

RSVP on Facebook

The work will be on display thru the end of the month.
Gallery Hours: Thursday thru Saturday from 11:00am – 4:00pm.

 


 

VOODOO helps artists.

Voodoo DollsI want to thank everyone who bid on my voodoo doll in S.P.A.C.E. Gallery’s August Art Auction. The bidding rose to $95 and a young, budding artist, Madison Crew, was the happy recipient.

I also want to thank everyone who voted for me as your favorite artist in the People’s Choice poll. The winner of the poll receives a solo show in The Backspace Gallery for the month of August in 2013.

Photographer, Sarah Vogelsang-Card, and I plan to exhibit our collaborative work for that month. We started the project a few years ago when we met and recognized our similar creative aesthetic. We are really looking forward to developing this body of work over the year to showcase next August.

Speaking of which, we are creating a preview of that work to be on display for “Haunted Winooski” this October…. (see below)

 

 


LOST DOLLS

Beth Robinson and Sarah Vogelsang-Card
a collaborative window installation for “Haunted Winooski”
On display: October 7th thru November 4th
39 Main Street, Winooski, Vermont

(better known as ‘the Round-About’ in downtown Winooski)

Haunted Winooski is a city-wide, week-long celebration of Halloween being organized by the Winooski Welcome Center. Activities will take place October 26th to October 31st. A whole host of activities and events are in the works: masquerade ball, dining specials, storytelling events, zombie walks, costume parade, and music events, etc.


EVERYTHING THAT CREEPS


Patt Kelley, Beth Robinson, Behind the Mask, Linda Bourke, Amanda Clarke

Opening Reception:
Saturday, October 27 from 7-10pm
Lincoln Arts Project
289 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

The work is on display for ONE WEEK ONLY!
October 26 through 31
Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Friday 4-9pm, Saturday, 2-8pm

Follow the blog for works in progress and sneak peaks!


 

DAY OF THE DEAD Group Show

Works of art inspired by Día de los Muertos imagery

Opening Reception:
Friday, November 2 from 4:30-6:00pm
UVM Allen House Multicultural Gallery
461 Main Street, Burlington

On display: October 29 through November 9

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I have two dolls in this show. I’ve been working on them for some time. I am hoping to have more available… as soon as I have some more free time from shows 🙂 I am joined in this show by Shain Erin and Nichole Dickerson among others.

Deviant Dolls

Click for larger views:

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