“The Ruby Heart,” archival ink jet photograph, 2011.
Seattle-based artist Mandy Greer installs a fantasy world awash in color, laced with glittering chandeliers, and alive with sumptuous birds and enigmatic figures draped in costume in her first New York solo exhibition.
In The Ecstatic Moment at the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, June 7 to September 14, 2014, she draws her inspiration from ancient myths and fairy tales and from the mundane and magical moments of everyday life.
The sewing machine and the crochet hook are her tools. Fabric and objects from the natural world her medium.
Last summer Greer visited Glenview, the Museum’s Victorian river home, and saw the stillness of afternoon light slanting through its windows. Captivated by the home’s ability to spur reverie, she returns to the Museum in 2014 with a site-specific installation, her poetic response to a way of life in a world gone by.
Ecstatic Moment encompasses sculpture, photography, fabric wall panels, video, and performance. Greer includes decorative elements from Glenview drawn from nature – its birds under glass and its patterns and colors. She turns the Museum’s galleries into a composition of color, each evoking emotion and, possibly, recollection. Enter Greer’s wild wilderness of dark trees, stark mountains, bottomless waters, and mystifying creatures and you sense Nature’s deep unknown.
The Vermillion section contains a 12-foot red chandelier, turkey vultures, magpies, and one of the installation’s four costumed mannequins − the Vermillion Poppy Goddess. Greer recognizes the archetypes of femininity just as she rejects and embraces them, situating her glamorous women in geologic settings. “Much of what I’m after in my work is to capture a rapturous moment, when a river of our inner life spills out of us like blood, milk or every-growing hair,” she said. She created the theme for this section, “Blood Lines,” especially for the Hudson River Museum.
In the centerpiece of the show, Lava and Flesh section, a circle of carrion birds are feathered in the silver and peach colors taken from Glenview’s parlor. The Cobalt and Turquoise section opts for drama. Greer uses 300 feet of fabric to create a dazzling waterfall on the Museum's main staircase that illustrates its theme “River and Ice.” A video shows “Mater Matrix Mother and Medium,” the portrait of a glacial Iceland she shot there on a recent trip t. Two more sections, Gold and Green contain wall sculpture, a honey moon, fanciful crocheted art, and photographs.
Ecstatic Moment’s final experience Dark, Celestial tells an inescapable truth – our identities change as we live and we give up a part of ourselves as each moment passes. Greer comingles human identity with a responsive environment in the sky and on land. A volcano symbolizes a moment’s love and a family quarrel is etched deeply in rifts on Earth’s surface. Creatures like the black “Bird of Solitude” and Hecate, the Greek goddess who possesses knowledge about the moon and magic, illustrate archetyple truths we sense before we know them.
Greer not only blends family life, the environment, and myths into her work, she also organizes crocheting workshops and weaves stitching from the community into her installations. As she prepares for her upcoming installation at the Hudson River Museum, Mandy Greer is hosting community crochet events in the Northwest. Her passage overland from Seattle to Yonkers will be a ‘residency on the road’ that she chronicles with her camera. The Museum’s social media arm reports as she makes new work for the exhibition en route.
Most recently Greer showed her creations in Paris in Every Moment Is Lost Forever for the international fiber installation MINIARTEXTI, following her spring 2013 multi-media performance for the Seattle Art Museum and she has created performance projects and films with the internationally recognized Degenerate Art Ensemble. Among her many awards is one from the Centro di Cultura Contemporanea at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy, 2011, for her installation in the exhibition American Dreamers.
The Ecstatic Moment was organized by the Hudson River Museum and curated by Bartholomew F. Bland, Director of Curatorial Affairs.