LIVING WITH GHOSTS
At its most humanistic, archaeology helps to shed light on the human condition. The trick then lies in the how one examines the composite elements of shared belief and common experience.
Enter the alchemical artist Christina Bothwell, maker of “dolls” that seem all too sensible of the viewer’s personal relationship (or lack thereof) with the natural processes of life and death. Here hand-fashioned ceramic limbs and bodies sewn from found materials are the stuff of ageless spirits whose being both signifies and transcends decay.
The assemblance Dreams of Flying is representative of influences, materials, and techniques seen throughout the show. Suspended upside-down, a skrted figure in its turn supports a small child, which swings on a seat hanging from the arms of the larger doll. The skirt itself is much too long for its owner, and combined with the ambiguous age of the figure, slips easily in meaning from skirt to whirlwind to the path of an ascending soul. This theme is repeated in other works, including the marvelous Ecstasies of St. Germaine where a rising soul is depicted in a small doll looking heavenward and in the delicate illustration of an air balloon and basket. The seated figure in Dreams of Flying is secured in place with trapeze-like guide wires, a reference seen later in dogs jumping through hoops, and less playfully (but no less affectively) in a series of conjoined twins.
Found materials and objects are carefully and respectfully usedeven cloth bandages weaved in a skirt are attached with their original metal fasteners. At their best, these objects complement the figures, but are distracting when the idea behind a piece lacks strong definition.
The underlying theme of the show does not suffer from this problem. Call them ghosts if you will, but what you are really looking at is a haunting reflection. Christina Bothwell combines innovative technique and finely tuned metaphor with a sharp inner eye to help guide you safely through the journey into your own beliefs.