Ritual wrapping and binding in contemporary southern art
From Native American sacred medicine bundles to the Jewish laying of tefillin, the rituals of wrapping and binding have held potent symbolic meaning for humans throughout history. Drawing inspiration from the traditions of various cultures, the contemporary artists in Entwined: Ritual Binding and Wrapping in Contemporary Southern Art engage wrapping and binding as symbols, as aesthetic devices, and often as a ritual practice within their work.
The technique and the symbolism of wrapping and binding in the work of these Southern artists is as varied as the artists themselves. From the magical paintings of Susan Jamison to the abstract sculptures of Sarah Zapata, there exists a common thread of ritual. For some, it is the ritual of repetitive laborious handwork. For others, it is the ritual and spiritual act of creation. Through wrapping, painting, weaving, coiling, drawing, or knotting, each artist binds their own unique and thoroughly contemporary vision to an ancient, universal, and very human practice.
Four of the artists included in this exhibition are based in Louisiana. Pridmore is a recent arrival, originally hailing from the Finger Lakes area of New York State. Her public work, St. Kampos, is currently featured in The Helis Foundation’s Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition. In Entwined, she has created a site-specific sculpture, Dreams of Eve, which stands as a testament to growth and rebirth in the face of adversity. Originally from Morgan City, Elizabeth Shannon is a well-established New Orleans artist who has been actively involved in the art dialogue of the region for over fifty years. Her installation, Re-Seeking Horizons, is a sculptural commentary on Louisiana’s delicate and endangered ecosystem. Kristin Meyers is a Calabrian-American multidisciplinary artist who has lived and worked in New Orleans for over twenty-five years. With thirteen found-object sculptural figures, Meyers’s installation is an immersive meditation on energy, ecology, and spirituality. Finally, the late Jeffrey Cook, a native of New Orleans, has six sculptural works from the collection of Andy Antipas included in the exhibition. These works are powerful wrapped and bound assemblages that draw from personal experience, African Art, Louisiana Vernacular Art, and the energy and patina of the city to comment on historical, sociopolitical, and spiritual issues.
Together with other artists from across the region—Ed Williford from Mississippi, Sonya Yong James from Georgia, Susan Jamison from Virginia, Ralph and Marlow Gates of Friendswood Brooms in North Carolina, and Susan Plum, Sarah Zapata, and Sharon Kopriva from Texas—these makers follow their hands and their vision to bind meaning to objects and build contemporary visual narratives through the ancient practice of wrapping and binding.