Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists

MARCH 14 - APRIL 12, 2009

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 14, 8 - 11 PM
Gallery Hours: Saturday and Sunday 12-5pm (March 15 - April 12)

- click here to view artwork from the show -

Dabora Gallery and Phantasmaphile's Pam Grossman are proud to usher in the spring
season with the group show "Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists," on view
from March 14th through April 12th, 2009.

In literal terms, a fata morgana is a mirage or illusion, a waking reverie, a
shimmering of the mind. Named for the enchantress Morgan le Fay, these tricks
of perception conjure up a sense of glimpsing into another world, whether it
be the expanses of an ethereal terrain, or the twilit depths of the psyche.
The artists of "Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists" deftly utilize the
semiotics of mysticism, fantasy, and the subconscious in
their work, thereby guiding the viewer through heretofore uncharted
realms - alternately shadowy or luminous, but always inventive.

Yoko Ono recently said, "I think all women are witches, in the sense that a
witch is a magical being." Each artist in this show is a sorceress in her own
right. Endowed with fecund imaginations and masterful craftsmanship, their
work transforms the viewer: we become spellbound, bearing witness to their
attempts to reconcile the desire for a diurnal beauty with the lure of a lush
and riotous inner wilderness. The fantastical is counterpoint to the
ferocious, the monstrous to the marvelous. Allusions to myth and
metamorphosis abound, as these works channel their own
heroine spirits and tell their own secret tales. Here, frame is
magic threshold, bidding us to take a breath, and cross over.

Participating Artists

Carrie Ann Baade is an oil painter with the eye of a collagiste. Disparate
images of varying scale are juxtaposed in her pictures, resulting in an
opulent psychological phantasmagoria. Ms. Baade draws upon the visual cues of nightmares and
19th century spiritualism to depict the archetype of "the dark feminine". (Miami, FL)

Christina Dallas creates parlor photographs which are composed using handmade dolls
as models. These make-believe portraits are taken in elaborate room settings and work on several levels:
as playful, grotesque stagings as well as honest revelations of the hidden complexities that
we carry within us as we grow from childhood and into our adult selves. (Brooklyn, NY)

Lori Field's painstaking encaustic technique results in cloudy, pastel-hued
wonderscapes. The chimeric characters that populate her pieces are placid and
contemplative, holding poses of mute beauty. Each work is further embellished with threading and
small, embedded treasures, all hermetically sealed as if in amber. (Montclair, NJ)

Katy Horan's work feels very folkloric, yet the "folk" in question are
culturally ambiguous. The rituals in which her masked women partake are drawn
from a combination of paganism and shamanism, as well as the aesthetics of
domestic arts and textile crafts. This amalgam yields a tableau that seemingly transcends
age, while having its own distinctively, potent charge. (Austin, TX)

Tina Imel takes inspiration from the corseted world of Victoriana and all of
its pageantry. In her work, female restriction is counter-balanced by
powerful imaginings and intensive psychological
release, without shirking from either pain or prettiness. (Scranton, PA)

Susan Jamison's egg tempera paintings feature a rose-hued every-woman
interfacing with nature. Her flesh is adorned with elaborate designs,
suggesting sacred make-up fit for a mystery rite. Femininity and natural
power are intricately tied together, as veins
mimic vines, and animals silently bear witness. (Roanoke, VA)

Karena Karras uses the traditional tropes of the Surrealists to express her
ideas about the correspondence between gender and power. Her female subjects
are caught in moments of spiritual evolution, wherein boundaries between
corpus and cosmos are blurred. (Chicago, IL)

The delicate drawings of Fay Ku belie a quiet ferocity. Her striking graphic
sensibility and linear restraint are effective foils for the brute violence of
the fairy tales to which she alludes. Pretty young girls partake in painful
coming-of-age episodes and participate in disturbing
acts which are at once comical and unsettling. (Brooklyn, NY)

For Adela Leibowitz, the past is rife with fantasies and horrors. Her paintings
explore this tension via quasi-historical vignettes and a soft-hued palette that
signifies a liminal dream space. Whether her mesmerized female protagonists are engaging in
acts of submission or incendiary liberation remains up to the viewer to determine. (New York, NY)

Rene Lynch's paintings depict adolescent girls engaging in moments of vague
yet palpable sexual discovery. Trees with their entanglement of branches
provide a veiled, insular world where these neophytes can undergo their covert
exchanges and hushed transformations. (Brooklyn, NY)

Alexis Mackenzie's collages look like perfect digital composites, but they are
all in fact done by her own exacting hand. Black and white vintage ephemera
and natural history book clippings are combined to create a medley of poetic,
stream-of-consciousness associations between
maidens and warriors, life and death. (San Francisco, CA)

Lynda Mahan's work is rendered in a photorealistic style, yet
feels otherworldly - even underworldly. With a gothic bent and penchant for
the pitchy side of the color spectrum, her images are
like reflections as seen through a black mirror. (Brooklyn, NY)

At first glance, Amy Ross' beguiling work holds its own in the naturalist
cannon, alongside Karl Blossfeldt and Maria Sibylla Merian. Upon closer
inspection however, one sees that her fine renderings are in fact Moreauvian
crossbreeds of plants and wildlife. Whether seen as a commentary on genetic
engineering, or else an homage to the mystery of biology's many permutations,
these hybrids surprise and delight. (Boston, MA)

World renowned artist Judith Schaechter takes a departure from her award-
winning stained glass technique to experiment with a more contemporary medium.
Her digital work yields a seamless representation of her signature, disjointed
narratives. Always texture-rich, hyper-patterned, and supersaturated with
color, her fabricated world is one in which the macabre and the beautiful
intermingle in compelling combinations. (Philadelphia, PA)

Madeline von Foerster utilizes the ancient visual vocabulary of alchemy to
communicate a timeless message. The chemical wedding or conjunctio is the
Western version of the yin-yang, wherein male and female energies are put into
perfect balance. The Latin phrase around her painting's border is an
alchemical adage which translates roughly to, "Visit the interior of the
earth, and by rectifying you will find the hidden stone." This metaphor for
the excavation of the unconscious self is particularly apt in regard to the
process the artist goes through to translate her own
deep symbolic language into final works of art. (New York, NY)

About the Curator:

Pam Grossman is the creator and editor of Phantasmaphile (www.phantasmaphile.com)
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 has also
fostered rich relationships between Pam and numerous artists who have been
promoted on the site. "Fata Morgana" is Pam's first curatorial effort.

(opening reception serving complimentary absinthe courtesy of La Fee)

Top of page image: Susan Jamison, "Tatting Tales", Egg tempera on panel, 2008