Musings on art and life.
I recently paid a visit to the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey. The intention of my visit was to see the landscape art of Georgia O’Keefe which was recommended to me by a good friend. Little did we know that the delight that is the art of Saya Woolfalk was in store for us.
Saya’s deeply imaginative Institute of Empathy has beautiful and surreal supporting artwork, which speaks of a wonderfully playful and talented artistic nature.
The institute of Empathy has been a work in progress for some years, originally starting with the project called No Place. The Institute grew out of this body of work to become a fully realised fictional culture that has it’s origins in the discovery of what were first thought to be human remains. The remains, it was found, were from a chimera, a hybrid species of human and plant. Exposure to the bones resulted in an empathetic response to the DNA, transforming anyone who had come into contact with them into an Empathic. The resulting community of Empathics started the community and institution, documenting their physical, mental, and social transformation. The Institute now has it’s headquarters in Greene County, New York where humans can elect to undergo the process of “inter-species hybridization”, and become a fully fledged Empathic.
Saya’s artwork is bright, detailed and aesthetically pleasing, combining intricate textile and costume design, paint, video and photography to document, in detail, the transformation process of an ordinary human into an Empathic.
By far my favourite part of the exhibition was the display of poster sized gouache painting series entitled “Plant Alchemy”, here Saya really shows her artistic skill and eye for detail.
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