Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Last Call: Carla Rae Johnson's Séance Series at WCC Art Gallery through Sunday, March 11

Carla Rae Johnson, Anne Frank and Albert Schweitzer in the foreground;
Georgia O'Keeffe and Galileo Gallilei in the background

Carla Rae Johnson: Séance Series, currently on view at the Westchester Community College's Fine Arts Gallery, will close on Sunday, March 11th.  This is an excellent exhibition of beautifully wrought works of art and intellectually stimulating iconography.  Professor Johnson asks the question: "What if Emily Dickinson met Marcel Duchamp or Bessie Smith met Ludwig von Beethoven or Anne Frank met Albert Schweitzer or Frida Kahlo met Franz Kafka or Audre Lorde met Abraham Lincoln or Hildagard von Bingen met Herman Melville or Georgia O'Keeffe met Galileo Galilei?"

Carla Rae Johnson, Bessie Smith and Ludvig van Beethoven, at WCC

The artist explains her work:

"My sculpture is directly connected to ideas and often addresses issues of social, political, and cultural import.  As an artist, I find the most challenging forms and concepts at the intersection of the visual and the verbal.   Begun in 2000, The Séance Series suggests imagined meetings between unlikely pairs; creative individuals that never met during their lifetimes:   Emily Dickinson with Marcel Duchamp, Hildegard of Bingen with Herman Melville, Bessie Smith with Ludwig van Beethoven and Audre Lorde with Abraham Lincoln."

Carla Rae Johnson, Audre Lorde and Abraham Lincoln

"Each of the pairs in The Séance Series plays a game.  Bessie Smith and Ludwig Van Beethoven meet at the piano.  Lorde and Lincoln play 'bridge.'  This bridge is not a card game, but a physical, symbolic span across an obstacle.  I think Audre Lorde would have confronted Lincoln on issues of race, power, and privilege, so it is Lincoln who must build the bridge.  Not a straightforward crossing, this is a difficult, jagged transition; composed of huge steps, twists, inclines, and internal tensions.   At the top of the center of the crossing is a 'spirit-level' symbolic of the quest to equalize and create a more level ground.  Beneath the bridge sits the 'house.' Emblematic of the existing social structure, 'the master's house,' is the obstacle that must be bridged with understanding and common ground, level ground, so that together Lorde and Lincoln can dismantle its walls and work toward a just future."

Carla Rae Johnson, "Please Touch Vesuvious" from Emily Dickinson and Marcel Duchamp

On her "Please Touch Vesuvius," Carla Rae Johnson continues: "Asked to design an invitation in 1947, Duchamp submitted a rubber cast of a woman’s breast adhered to black velvet and titled Please Touch  Emily Dickinson, in several of her poems compares her explosive poetic powers (and, perhaps, some smoldering angers) to the natural force and heat of a volcano.  The juxtaposition of breast and volcano creates associations rich in visual/formal relationships, powerful contrasts, and gender role reversals."

Carla Rae Johnson, Emily Dickson and Marcel Duchamp

Carla Rae Johnson, Emily Dickinson and Marcel Duchamp

Carla Rae Johnson, Hildagard of Bingen and Herman Melville

Carla Rae Johnson, Frida Kahlo and Franz Kafka

NB: WCC Fine Arts Gallery is closed today due to inclement weather. Therefore, please check the campus website for the hours when the gallery is open after the storm.  Normal hours are: Tuesday-Saturday 10 am to 3 pm; Thursday from 4 - 6 pm.

For information about the gallery and "Cultural Events," email  or call 606-6567. 

Westchester Community College campus is located at 75 Grasslands Road, Valhalla, NY 10595.  The WCC entrance off of Knollwood Road leads straight to the parking area next to the Fine Arts Building wherein you will find the gallery right next to the entrance.

Take care in the snow,

Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
Director and owner
New York Arts Exchange, LLC

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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