Installation view, “Wind-Scoured Scribes” at Mother Gallery, Beacon, 2019, Image courtesy of the gallery

The scribe aimed to explore the imprint of wind, and named the early dark falling as storm formation. After arriving in body as a blue hag of winter, some trees remained with calm limbs even though their branches were scoured. Others bent fully to the ground without falling, but none bowed to the hag before touching the earth. The hag imagined the white-dreaming weight of ice before she hit the frozen ground with her staff. In the midst of the storm, we see the wind-scoured scribe standing in the night-sky and imagine the early snow falling. ~Kari Adelaide

Amber Renaye (Left) Aggregate, ground rocks with oil medium on canvas, 36 x 30 inches, and (Right) Candelabra, Schist stone with brass and wax candle that was lit for the duration of the exhibition, both 2018, Images courtesy of Mother Gallery, 2019

An exhibition recently on view at Mother Gallery in Beacon, Wind-Scoured Scribes, was a group show curated by Kari Adelaide. The text above diligently sets a tone of majesty, magic and the power of nature. Here, the scribe, takes the form of a female, an ethereal figure who may or may not embody the cold of winter, the darkness of the forest and the levity of a delicate snowflake. In the narrative, we are in the forest with her, observers of this bent body, whose knuckles and features appear as the gnarled branches of pine, oak, the contorted filbert or cork screw willow. We watch as she conjures something greater than imagined, an energy extracted from deep within the earth and plucked from the loftiness of the sky. Was it a blizzard, emotional turmoil, a moment of joy, or light in shadow?

Max Razdow (Left) Taxonomy (Dvergar, Automata, Calculare) and (Right) Taxonomy (Wizardry, Witchcraft, Alchemy), both 18 x 24 inches, 2018, Images courtesy Mother Gallery, 2019

Curator Adelaide states, “The exhibit, Wind-Scoured Scribes, was inspired by Gaelic mythology surrounding a deity named Cailleach Bheur, the so-called hag of winter and patroness of wild deer.  The text description is derived from shards of old poems that I wrote.” Using her own fragmented language as a starting point, Adelaide ventured into linguistic abstraction and then visual painterly abstraction as she chose artists to be included in the exhibition. A selection of those with their own exploratory interests in mysticism, included Afruz Amighi, Hannah Barrett, Jesse Bransford, Francesca DiMattio, Rico Gatson, Dan Herschlein, Max Razdow, Amber Renaye, and Laurel Sparks. “It was a pleasure to select artists based on the abstract and open way that text frames art processes as recording and interpreting sublime aspects of nature,” she added.

Jesse Bransford, (Left) Mahavidya Eight — Bagalamukhi, (Right) Mahavidya Six — Bhairava, both 2017, watercolor and graphite on paper, 39 x 25 each

Many of the artists in the exhibition have an astute awareness of energy derived from nature, including conjuring and spells in their work. Without using traditional systems of alphabetic language, they communicate in their own way using symbolism that has its own narrative components.

Whether familiar with yantra symbols, as portrayed in Jesse Bransford’s paintings or the simultaneous narrative of the figures in Max Razdow’s watercolors, the work is aesthetically pleasing even if the viewer places their own interpretation or read onto it. What Bransford is portraying are yantras (geometric diagrams) of the Mahavidyas, a way of representing the supreme feminine in Hinduism. One of the works conjures Bhairavi, a female, symbolic representation of the power of destruction throughout the universe. “She is the one who merges the once separate planes of existence. Especially invoked in Tantric practices, these emanations depict the cosmic cycle of birth, evolution, death, and regeneration,” shared Bransford. “The tiny yellow dot (bindi) in the center of Mahavidya Six — Bhairava, is gold paint and is intended as the cosmic egg of regeneration latent in all destruction.” The layers of meaning are seductively hidden as these two works are delicately executed, they speak to the power of the allegorical.

Afruz Amighi, (Left) Fool’s Headdress, 2017, graphite on graph paper, 24″h x 18″w.  Courtesy of the artist. (Right) Hannah Barrett, “First Draft”, 2018, 50” x 40” oil on canvas.  Courtesy of the artist

Using various mediums and approaches, each artist revealed a part of their fantastical, unseen selves in the work that was on view. Evident in the crushed earth of Amber Renaye’s Aggregate or the playfulness of Hannah Barrett’s oil painting First Draft, both 2018, Wind-Scoured Scribes brought together a selection of works that on their own, allowed for a presence of the phantasmagoric, and together, a séance of sorts. In the heart of Beacon, in the arms of a mother the scribe found a home, even if just for few months. Where will she land next?

Additional works from the exhibition:

Wind-Scoured Scribes was open from December 1 through February 2, 2019. Looking forward to what Mother Gallery has coming up in future programming!

Katy Diamond Hamer is the founder of Eyes Towards the Dove. She is a freelance writer with a focus on contemporary art and culture. For more of her art adventures, follow: @katyhamer