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Review: Wisdom of the Swamp Goddess and Sanctity Extended

An installation and new work by women artists



Although many unusual art events have coincided with the Prospect.4 international art triennial, few are as unexpected as this Wisdom of the Swamp Goddess (installation, pictured), featuring large sheet metal paleolithic Venus of Willendorf replicas on the facade of 826 Gravier St. in the heart of the Central Business District. Framed by a cascade of cypress bark and sacred symbols based on the archetypal female trinity of the maiden, the mother and the crone, they are the work of gallerist and arts activist Angela King and her spiritual artist sisters: Elizabeth Conway, Sus Corez, Elena Walker, Elizabeth Eckman, Janet Baus, Nancy Gonsalvez and Julie Jacobs — women for whom goddess spirituality is the original "old time religion." King says Prospect.4's Lotus in Spite of the Swamp title reminded her of the ancient cypress trees of the Talisheek Swamp that she experiences as "powerful wise beings" who always make her want to return "to be there, among these ancient earth mothers."

  Kristin Meyers' Sanctity Extended expo at Barrister's Gallery is inspired by Europe's ex voto anatomici grottos and local equivalents like our St. Roch Chapel, places where body parts are immortalized as icons of healing. Here, Meyers' array of bound figurative and reliquary forms reflect her own personal archetypal trinity expressed as her Introspection, Resilience and Devotion mixed-media sculptures. Introspection — a white fabric and lace upper female torso with surreal anatomical protrusions affixed with gauzy white wrappings — is emblematic for its exploration of the ancient art of binding as a way of focusing spiritual energies. An adjacent grotto fashioned from the gallery building's antique brick walls recreates a sense of the ancient Roman Catholic catacombs where the bones of saints and well-connected mortals were preserved for posterity. Although Meyers' Sanctity exhibition, like King's Swamp Goddess installation, reflects traditions that date to antiquity, both perfectly complement our Carnival season's celebration of ancient deities like Bacchus, Proteus, Iris and the like. Sanctity Extended. Through Feb. 3. Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, (504) 710-4506; Wisdom of the Swamp Goddess. Through Feb. 28. 826 Gravier St.

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