Tamara Henderson Seasons End: Panting Healer at REDCAT
By Jennifer Susan Jones
Through December 23rd
Blocks of color, frayed silk edges, and found objects all come alive in Canadian artist Tamara Henderson’s first solo exhibition on the West Coast: a surreal dreamscape titled ‘Seasons End: Panting Healer.’ Exotic totem figures stand elegantly among the space like fabric trees grown up from the gallery floor. Henderson’s sculptures are inspired by ideas generated while under hypnosis, and the installation’s surreal atmosphere indeed feels assembled by hands working under the languid direction of a hypnagogic mind operating under dream logic.
Within this space, cube, stripe, and scallop motifs co-mingle with recognizable images of butterflies, grapes, and leaves, some of exaggerated size and others presented in a huddle of batched clusters, cuddling together in unexpected little nooks. Copper coils top a totem figure on which delicate painted doilies cling, their fragility paired perfectly with the cold, orange metal. Silk fuses with lace, taffeta is stitched with dyed cottons, and lustrous metallics shine alongside plastics with splashes of glittered discs, and bursts of tassels resembling the tails of fantastical miniature ponies. Henderson’s imagination is one that crosses the barriers of convention and steps delicately through possibilities, sewing them together like an apparition engaged in a scavenger hunt in a large, exotic mansion.
On one particular totem titled ‘A Moth’s,’ dyed and rumpled crepe wings rest on the back of an oddly angelic figure, its state of worldly aged experience apparent in the wing’s condition. In this space, all wrinkles equal a regality that is earned and worn proudly. Henderson, whose recent research focuses on past and present totems, seasonal change, pagan gods and goddesses, fairies and scarecrows, collects found and recycled items and gifts gathered throughout her travels, and assembles them into large-scale installations, wherein she presents the viewer with a rich and sensual personal history.
The luxurious fabric panels separate the gallery into semi-distinct areas of discovery, their permeable materials illustrating the metaphor that the human mind holds colorful memories that blur and overlap. Some recollections glow with the bright urgency of metal while others fade into the past like fragile garments left in the sun. The memories built here are both transient and permanent, pulling at the mind like a powdery moth tethered to an anchor.
‘Season’s End’ is on view in the gallery at Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) until December 23, 2016.