Drawn to the Shadows: Chasing Ghosts VI artists reveal the allure of the unknown
The theme of Chasing Ghosts floats into Verum Ultimum with the falling leaves and the warm glow of jack-o-lanterns each year. Attracting the most mysterious work of the entire season. Perhaps the artists (that are drawn to this theme) listen to the unsaid things, perhaps they see a link between grief and hope, or maybe they are simply drawn to exploring memory. Whatever the impetus, the compelling factors yield work that is mesmerizing! In this year's edition, it's as if the unconscious whispers through the works, beckoning the viewer to care more deeply.
I asked the Chasing Ghosts VI artists to share what compels them to express the hard things or the hidden things in their work.
The following are their responses:
There is great beauty in darkness and decay, stillness, quiet: all are fertile fields for creation.
They are foundations of life.
Solitude Allows for Understanding Which flourishes In quiet and Darkness Remove External Stimulation and The mind Catches fire
“It is in our nature to be resistant of change. In life we have our own seasons of happiness, Sadness, ups and downs. We must see our lives as a symphony of seasons, With beautiful movements of changes that are In harmony with each other. We must applaud each intermezzo of change. Summer is the sonata of celebrating life, The feeling of effervescence and freedom. Autumn is the vivid scherzo of contentment Of paying attention to what we have. Winter is the composition of loneliness, Of silence and the time to listen As we know that something new awaits us. The last note is yet played. Spring is the opus of a new life, beauty and hope. So there is a new piece of music For every season in our lives. A melody for every purpose in our life… …All we need to do is rekindle the Light of change within us.” By DL Maré (Delesté)
"My mother had a sewing store when I was little. She spent endless hours sewing special outfits for my sister and me. I never appreciated the value of all of the work that she put into the things she made. Looking back, I wish I had acknowledged all that she did.
I watched her body shrivel and decay. She lost cognitive and physical abilities, yet she remained powerfully and painfully aware of these losses. Her body was just a vessel, a form for her spirit. That spirit continues to shine through me, through our family, through the things and people she touched. I struggle with grief. It is a deep, massive void. I find myself holding onto tenuous threads of connection to her—the things she touched and the things she cared for. I cling to these objects, residues of memories to connect back to her.
I make threadlike ceramic forms in porcelain, that relate to our heartspace, our breath, our lungs, our fragile bones protected by thin veils of skin and linear bands of muscle and fascia. They feel simultaneously permanent and impermanent. Porous and open, the absence of form carries equal weight to the presence of material."
"The concept alluded to in the "Chasing Ghosts VI: Art that Pierces the Veil through remembrance, legacy, and beyond" is familiar to me. The “Veil” being the most interesting part, as it begs the question: what remains hidden? I am exploring this theme in the photo collection, Self Safari, by challenging my collaborators to discover their inner-woven fabrics: Joys, Fears, Dreams, Aspirations ... Allow their expressions to be therapeutic, a vehicle of touching your inner demons!"
"To search for the ghosts was to revisit places through the visual images that I am so drawn to making. The images bring indelible remembrance of light and color, of sound – of the entire sensory perception of place and time. In recent days, the images lament loss and provide an elegy to the intersection of landscape and heart. And as in the ritual of Segaki they cleanse and provide refuge and renewal."
"Where from, where to? Belief that those ahead wondered the same way gives me feeling of coherence, and a relief."
Yukio Ito 伊藤幸生
"I was immediately drawn to the theme of this exhibit because I always include the shadow in my work. There is no light without shadow, no shadow without light. As living beings (part of this earth), we need the full spectrum from light to dark (and all the colors). We are all connected by the roots and threads that hold us to the earth (with invisible lines). Rather than forgetting, I see the dead as with us always. In my doll, Bloodlines, Five Generations, I pay homage to the grandmothers and to my father. This doll opens up, so that if you open the door, you can see the heart that beats, connecting all the generations, back to the beginning of time. This doll is not meant to represent my ancestors only, but yours too."
"My piece, “Watching,” is first meant to draw the viewer in as a voyeur, watching the watcher in an intriguing and intimate setting. Using an intense monochromatic color scheme and placement of the seated figure with her back facing the camera, I wanted to establish the appearance of a cinematic freeze-frame from her point of view. Who is she watching? Is the phantom-like persona an elusive emotional memory that she is chasing? Does she know the person? The answers are for the viewer to speculate on because ultimately, we are all watching, we are all chasing ghosts."
Jenny Helbraun Abramson
"Grief got me here. In the dark hours of sleeplessness, wondering how I would go on, I would go out to bathe in the night sky. Or I’d lay in bed in the light of the full moon, and rise before dawn to watch it set. The stars and the moon received my pain, and nursed me with wonder in return."
Jenny Helbraun Abramson
“The Shield of Achilles” is based on Homer’s description of the piece in the Iliad, and W H Auden’s poem written in 1952 about prophetic visions of the breakdown of contemporary society. I wanted to create an updated version of the shield that draws parallels between mythological and modern civilizations, warfare, and scientific discoveries, while still maintaining the structure that Homer described. Ultimately, this piece is about all we have lost and all we stand to lose. The gods of Greek mythology live as metaphors for warrior spirit, virtue, prophecy, and character. Thetis, the mother of Achilles, commissioned the shield knowing that it would not save her son from death, but would ultimately carry him to immortality. For me, it asks the question, what do we fight for?"
"After an arduous year of tragic events, from the turmoil, unthinkable grief, amidst continued suffering, every unforgettable moment beyond comparison. From within the human spirit, an emergence of resilience, sacrifices made by the living, who rose to the occasion with dedication and perseverance, honoring the dead. We get to know their names through humble tributes of haunting despair, by tearful heart broken mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons and extended families and friends. And I ask you, ”Did we learn anything?” And I ask myself, “What will come of this storied past, resolution or ambivalence?”
"One Face of the Pandemic" was inspired by feelings I had during this past year. Wrapped in armor for protection against life, death and disease, this sculpture depicts fear, loss of life as it was known, grief and isolation. The tragic and sudden death of my son at age 18, many years ago, played a central role in the strong sense of despair that is felt."
"The vapors of my ancestors, their strength and victimhood, swirl within the folds and unfolding of my creative process. Like spilled ink, their beauty and suffering seeps into the crevices of my psyche, to nourish and bear these ghosts..."
"Many artists love the materiality of their mediums, the colors, yes, and especially the plasticity of it. That’s where the term ‘plastic’ derives from, in the sense of being easily shaped or molded. The process of turning compounds into images of landscapes we feel we can step into, portraits we imagine we can reach out and touch, forms of pain or grace, heaven or hell, abstractions that transport us to another reality is often the driving force. Painters lose their ego selves when working intently on something outside of themselves; time sometimes gloriously ceases while we work. Somedays, unexpectedly, when I am particularly immersed in the process, I might find myself in a meditative space. Fleeting, yes, but one reason the alchemical nature of the act of painting is so compelling to the artist."
"Anybody can make a difference and be a voice for the voiceless"- Zach Hunter.
“You cannot see me from where I look at myself.”
― Francesca Woodman
"Exploration of memory, both pleasant and melancholic, are at the core of my work. Light, shadow and reflection hint to the viewer places to enter a deeply personal narrative."
"I have always been drawn to the shadows. and the the veil between the worlds. To me there is so much beauty in the darkness. I love to create pieces that encapsulates the beauty in the lost, t or dark. Most of my work deals with the passage of time, ancient myths and lore, what is left behind, or the unseen beauty in the dark and forgotten. There is no light without darkness, and I love to explore that in my work."
Maria Botti Villegas
"True art lies in a reality that is felt,"
"The piece selected in the show got me by surprise! Suddenly, after preparing the background, the story manifested. Something was there… I trusted the elements. I was an observer. This image may have been a remembrance from the past or may have been a product of the present situation of our TIERRA, TERRA, EARTH…I do not know, but feeling and ultimately sharing this or others stories may bring change and growth."
Maria Botti Villegas
"I am not sure if I was chasing ghosts or they were chasing me or perhaps both. As Bob Dylan says,
“It’s either one or the other but neither of the two”. At least that’s how it felt toward the end of my 30 year voyage on the seas of alcohol addiction. And even now after 42 years on the shore of sobriety that fate is still only a drink away. Thus the inspiration for my image."
Maj Britt Vorgrimmler
the border between
light and shadow
life and death
death and afterlife
is razor sharp
one way or back forth
where one sees darkness,
light is even stronger.
Maj Britt Vorgrimmler
"I find it difficult to write about my art work, so bear with me. I have been following your posts on Facebook for a couple years, and I was drawn to this show because of the other artists participating, and I love that type of imagery. I was wanting to enter last year, but the gallery that all my work was in was in lock down for over a year.
The piece I entered, “Hear Me” was initially about the women’s right to vote anniversary in 2019, and the struggle to be heard. After I started the painting, my son became critically ill with Chrons disease. After facing a life threatening disease, the work became a narrative of my own struggle to cope and to be heard. The dress is in part, a wedding dress that was my great grandmother’s."
"When I saw the call for “Chasing Ghosts” I thought of my current state for the past year and a half. The photograph “Beside Myself” is a self-portrait. I believe I took it on 3/9/2020. My husband was in the hospital again. Life itself was closing in around me. I was being strong for him. But in this moment, I
couldn’t deal with anything in my life. That Saturday he passed away from pancreatic cancer, sooner than we all expected. And I’ve been chasing ghosts of sorts with my grief ever since. I had this as my profile picture for the longest time on a social media platform I use. However, I finally changed it this
past spring as I’m slowly emerging from my grief and back into life."
"Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance," -- Coco Chanel
Peggy Guggenheim was an American art collector and socialite who was born into the wealthy New York City Guggenheim family. She is attempting to communicate with spirits -- father Benjamin and his mistress who went down in the Titanic in 1912, her ex-husband German surrealist painter Max Ernst and his future bride Dorothea Tanning (m. 1946). The ghost of Coco Chanel (black/ white striped dress)
is represented in the bottom left foreground of my original artwork.
"Subjectivity is shaped by past experiences that accumulate over time; it functions as a filter and always determines how the present will be lived and perceived. I think what we take with us as we get on with our lives are the memories or ghosts that took hold and are the source of our individuality. We make choices based on all those experiences and the best choices are those that insist on positive progress while carrying bits of the past into our shared future."
Grief gives birth to hope, equanimity and peace:
My first child died in a horrific car crash while serving people’s emotional and spiritual growth.
The following changes and growth in me have been profound…and yet,
though eluding specific description, they often inform, play and converse in my art.
Visions appear from shadows or spring forth from unlikely still-life subjects in a burst of exuberant energy.
No need to attach to any of these illusions.