For years, Raine Bedsole has crafted whimsical boats — spindly, ethereal vessels that appear to have been built for navigating the seas of myths and dreams more than any real body of water. Over time her oeuvre has expanded to include the human form, trees, old letters, poetic texts and even totemic oars embellished to incorporate all of the above. This show is partly inspired by Homer's Odyssey and the hurricane refugees still striving to return to New Orleans and rebuild. But literary analogies are only part of the picture, and she is concerned with connections in a deeper symbolic sense. The sinews of her raw materials often correlate with the strands of experience from which life itself is woven.
Opposite Banks is a canoelike form woven from
gossamer branches that look more like a bird's nest than anything
nautical. Its intense lapis blue coloring, seemingly fused into venous
wooden tendrils, suggests it was meant to navigate the night sky like
the barques that ferried the Egyptian pharaohs to the next life.
Gulf is a bas-relief with a boat formed from flat strips of
copper seemingly traversing a pale lunar sea. In some places the chalky
whiteness, actually plaster, parts like sea foam to reveal an old map
of the Gulf of Mexico; elsewhere it suggests cracked walls invisibly
tattooed with ghostly memories. Some nearby treelike assemblages
feature bark made from lines of printed poetry, returning language
literally to its roots in the earthly world. In the rear of the
gallery, some old wooden oars stand like sentinels bearing mysterious
signs and markings, some in distinctly female proportions. In Bedsole's
world, women are vessels of human experience inseparable from the
forces of nature they navigate.
Raine Bedsole: Recent Work
Gallery Bienvenu, 518 Julia St., 525-0518; www.gallerybienvenu.com