April 27th – June 17th, 2012
Opening reception: Friday, April 27th, 7-10pm
Gallery Hours: Thursdays & Fridays 3-6pm, Saturdays & Sundays 12-6pm
Show images viewable here
The fibers of art and magic are woven so tightly together, it’s often said that they are one and the same. Images are imaginal pictures. When we see something, a constellation of synapses fires, associations swirl, and new thoughts are born. We are altered – and what is magic, if not this?
That said, there is a long lineage of artists who, quite literally, created spells via drawings on the floor, scrawls in books, lines cut into wood or stone. Though the featured players of this story are often English magicians from John Dee to Austin Osman Spare to Alan Moore, symbol-based magic can be traced back through the ages and across cultures. Germanic runes were carved into objects and later used as vehicles of divination. Hindu yantras and Buddhist mandalas are meditative, microcosmic diagrams meant to elevate the mind to the spiritual plane, and Kabbalistic letters are infinite layer-cakes of mystic meaning. The well-placed glyph can bless a birth, or curdle mother’s milk. A ring of certain characters can summon a demon, and the right number-grid can allow communion with the angels. Excavated from grimoires, handed down from teachers both living and dead, these are powerful emblems that act upon the fabric of the universe.
As such, the works in Sigils & Signs are agents of change. By using occult symbols from various traditions and times, each artist explores what it means to be a magician in the modern age: to emblazon sigils upon the energy field; to make magic marks. While these artworks may be appreciated for their aesthetic value – and oh how valuable they are – the viewer is invited to engage with each piece on the immaterial level. Whether protective or contemplative, refueling or revealing, these “wall spells” are cast with careful beauty and the intention to transform.
Derrick R. Cruz
David Chaim Smith
About the Curator
Pam Grossman is an independent curator and lifelong student of magical practice and history. She is the creator of Phantasmaphile, a blog which specializes in art and culture with an esoteric or fantastical bent, and the Associate Editor of Abraxas International Journal of Esoteric Studies. As co-founder of Observatory, her programming aims to explore mysticism via a scholarly yet accessible approach. Her group art shows, Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists, VISION QUEST, and Alchemically Yours have been featured by such outlets as Boing Boing, CREATIVE TIME, Time Out New York, Juxtapoz, Arthur, 20×200, UrbanOutfitters.com, and Neil Gaiman’s Twitter. She lectures on such topics as The Occult in Modern Art 101, and teaches classes on herbalism and ritual. She is a graduate of New York University, where she studied anthropology, art history, and religious studies. A resident of Brooklyn, she lives with her playwright husband, Matt, and their two cat familiars, Albee and Remedios “Remy” Varo.
Show image: Jesse Bransford, “Every Man and Woman is a Star” detail, 2008