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Review: The Goddess Revisited

D. Eric Bookhardt on a CBD wall sculpture featuring the Venus of Willendorf and other goddesses



Blink and you might miss it, but look up and you see a goddess — or many goddesses, on a two-story wall sculpture (pictured) rendered in laser-cut aluminum. Like a Fellini vision of a multicultural Mount Olympus above the Singha Thai Cafe, this makes sense in the only city where classical deities including Iris and Athena are still widely venerated — every Mardi Gras. Featuring the ancient full-figured fertility deity, the Venus of Willendorf, in blue plexiglass flanked by old and new goddesses Ishtar, Kali, Lady Liberty, Wonder Woman, Frida Kahlo and the voodoo spirit La Sirene, the installation was organized by gallerist Angela King and created by artists Katrina Andry, Janet Walker Baus, Elizabeth Conway, Sus Corez, Elizabeth Eckman, Carolina Gallop, Nancy Gonsalves, Elena Reeves-Walker, Steph Smith, Diana Souza and Heidi Tullman among others. Originally a P.3+ project that drew Mayor Mitch Landrieu and voodoo priestess Sallie Ann Glassman to its opening, it remains up through February.

  A related approach was featured in the recently departed P.3+ expo, The Nature of Now. According to curator Pamala Bishop, this assortment of sensual and organic mixed-media works reflected ideas like "eco-erotic feminism," a term coined by participating artist Shana Robbins to describe her femme-centric form of earth-based shamanism. A parallel sensibility appeared in a magical labyrinth that New York/Norwegian artist Anne Senstad created in a sugarcane field and transposed to the show. A mix of visual and performance art set the tone in works like Angel Chen's optical illusionist installation of Siamese fighting fish that symbolized destructive life-destroying egos, and Marion Spencer and Ellery Burton's choreographic nature ruminations, as well as Brandon Ballengee's mixed-media jiu-jitsu inversions of BP oil disaster propaganda among other environmentally based works. Here nature appeared as a vulnerable object of desire pillaged by money-grubbers out for a quick buck. Under the vaulted ceilings of an old theater, these works radiated a sensibility suggesting that human healing will ultimately only occur when we finally manage to heal the Earth.

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