De Soto Gallery is pleased to announce “Book of Shadows,” an exhibition of photographs by Amelia Bauer created in collaboration with Elizabeth Parks Kibbey. The solo exhibition, Bauer’s first in Los Angeles, will be on view from March 7 - April 13, 2014. The artist will be present for an opening reception on Friday, March 7 from 6pm to 8pm.
Amelia Bauer investigates cultural conceptions of the natural world through a lens of history and mythology. Her interventions, both photographic and sculptural, reflect on the distinctly American endeavor to bend nature to will and the psychological motivation underlying such efforts. The outcome is a nuanced marriage of the inherently untamable and the age-old human desire for control.
For Book of Shadows, Bauer looks back to the 17th century, considering the intersection of the Salem Witch trials in America and the popularization of floral still life painting in Europe. Witchcraft, a belief system that focused on cycles of the natural world, included among its rituals the use of dried botanicals kept in bottles, carried in pouches, bathed in, or brewed as tea. Plants were used both symbolically and medicinally in these rituals, and many of the ingredients can be found in present-day herbal remedies. This sort of ritualistic “magic” was subject to persecution; and women, who were considered more powerful practitioners than men, were often targeted in witch hunts. In contrast, the symbolism of flowers in early modern European painting had its roots in Christian iconography – the lily (Virgin Mary, purity); the tulip (ostentation, nobility); the poppy (power, sleep, the Passion of Christ) for example – and held a moralizing meaning aimed at a cultivated audience.
Drawing inspiration from the proscriptive nature of occultism and the conventions of an antiquated decorative style, Bauer collaborated with Elizabeth Parks Kibbey, a florist whose own work involves experimental, large-scale floral sculpture. The still lifes are composed of the ingredients in various botanical spells used in their most floral state: poppies instead of poppy seeds, a saffron bulb instead of dried stigmas. The spells, culled from various sources and chosen for their timelessness, are reinterpreted here as traditional arrangements but cast in unnatural colored light. The resulting images alternate between a idealized view and a fear of the natural world and the feminine.
Amelia Bauer (b. 1979, Santa Fe, New Mexico) received her BFA from the School of Art at The Cooper Union. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in North America and Europe including Capricious Space in Brooklyn, Frye Art Museum Seattle, CCA Santa Fe, CoCA Seattle, New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, SFMOMA, Phillips de Pury Shop, Museum of Vancouver, and National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution. Her work is in the permanent collection of The Albuquerque Museum and SFMOMA.
Gallery hours are from Thursday thru Sunday, noon to 6pm, and by appointment. For visuals and additional information please contact: Shelley De Soto at email@example.com or 323-253-2255.