Art of the Day

22 Jan

woodfiguresonfloor

Untitled. by Micaela Amato (born sometime before 1975). Cast glass, 2012. Belongs to private collection.

Notes from Micaela Amato’s personal page at psu.edu (she is a member of the Penn State University faculty):

Through my work I am investigating my ancestral history, and in doing so, I attempt to reconcile my sense of exile and reconstruct my identity. My intention is to undermine racist dictums of “purity of blood” and ethnic cleansing that continues to devour our world.

Ants and Luminous Insects, Looking Around She Saw that She was in a Play, and Tijuana Tavolettas, are several works that engage cultural, physical and spiritual healing. Hallucinations-birds in her throat, she was dreaming, is an installation of life-size, cast glass portrait sculptures with hybrid ethnic and racial physiognomies, together with 48″x 60″ composite, cibachrome photographs. These images combine contemporary figures within ancient sites in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas in states of migration. Together, photos and sculptures become a kind of global family that attempts to reduce sectarian hatred and rage.

Cibachrome composite portrait photographs and painted portraits also combine self portraiture or that of my daughter Cara with ancient images: Egyptian/Roman faiyum funerary portraiture found on sarcophagi; religious santos from Mexican folk art; or Velasquez’s Infanta. These double portraits have multiple features and hover like ghosts or apparitions. Hybrid “monsters,” these exiled characters are spectacles of their own invisibility.

Script from poetic ancient text is often configured in intensely illuminated neon handwriting that speaks in the first person or third person. Three dimensional neon lighted “knots” symbolize the soul, the flow of blood and breath, and internal life energy.

A metaphor for “convivencia,” a cultural collaboration of diverse religions and ethnicities in Spain before the Inquisition, my cross-media work celebrates hybridity and calls for a reconciliation of Moslems, Jews, Christians and all other religions in the 21st century.

My comments:

Amato’s work will be in an upcoming exhibition about the Sephardic Jewish culture at the Gershman Y in February, along with the photography of Laurence Salzmann. One of my tasks as an intern at the Gershman Y last week was to write up a short biography of Amato and Salzmann for the exhibition, so I decided to feature her work here. With this work she focuses on the history of Las Chuetas (the Jews) who settled in Majorca in the 15th century after being expelled from Spain, just as the muslims were. I’m not sure if the glass she uses is actually from Majorca, but I think she uses the medium and glass and her particular color choices in order to evoke the spirit of the Mediterranean island. In these sculptures, she also tries to capture the particular facial features that people of the Sephardic Jew ethnicity bear. 

I personally like the way Amato has made the glass color like a rainbow, with the colors changing as your eyes travel over the glass like crashing and receding waves. Compared to Salzmann’s representation of Sephardic Jewry, Amato gives us a subjective, personalized view of the culture. Seen together, their work should make for a very interesting exhibition.

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2 Responses to “Art of the Day”

  1. Clyde McGeary January 22, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Zoe,
    I enjoy your insightful comments and would like to talk with you sometime in the near future when you are visiting Camp Hill.
    Clyde McGeary

  2. tara January 24, 2013 at 1:44 am #

    i think i saw a head like this at the Mutter Museum……

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