showcasing visual poetry by magi amma
If you click into magi’s art website you see her favorite artists and their influence on her artworks. You’ll also see ‘Lean Forward – No, lean further forward!, an interview with Magi Amma by Lisa Leonard.
Her ‘about tab’ is by way of an introduction by the curator of magi amma’s 2005 retrospective show at the Louie-Meager Art Gallery in Fremont, CA; the catalog pdf of the artwork is on her Ohlone Retrospective tab.
A teaser from Miz Stainer:
“Magi Amma is a contemporary Renaissance woman with skills in sculpture, bronze casting, ceramics and computer science. Her hi-tech qualifications include posts as an art director at Sun Microsystems and Apple Computer. She is an activist who not only has created such political artwork as the Coup d’Etat Coloring Book, but has also served as President of the National Woman’s Caucus for Art. She has shown in many venues in California and nationally.
There are selected works from three series in the gallery, The Tarot Series, The Chair Series and the Techno Series [she’s added Resurrection since then]. All of the artist’s work contains sociological and political ideas, albeit with an underlying feminist philosophy.
Amma’s palette consists of subtle weathered greys and rich rusty browns affected by the vicissitudes of time, highlighting the beauty of aged people and objects. Her images combine natural and found materials, recycled into art, which reflect the ecologically concerned artist. Amma uses symbols such as wings, wheels, nests, ladders, cages and confined female figures as metaphors of the questionable state of the social and financial equality of the 21st century woman.”
Magi’s breathtaking and extensive curriculum vitae/resumé is here. Onward to some of her ‘cognitive dissidence’ creations. (click for larger for some of them, not the first two, then < go back)
magi’s commentary, including these teasers via email:
‘This piece was the console for a group show called Addressing Women. Each artist made a dress which had a computer monitor as its head. People would sit at the bright-pink Art Dresser and ‘grab’ a picture of themselves which would appear in the monitor in the mirror. The piece was at the back of the room. When they got up, much to their surprise, their picture would be on all of the monitors of all the pieces in the room.
Art Dresser detail
‘Art Dresser was an early piece. I was working in the Silicon Valley as an engineer at the time and was invited to join the exhibit because of my technical background more than as a sculptor as they needed someone to figure out how to connect up all the pieces and do what they wanted in terms of getting the images on the heads of their artworks.’
‘This is my signature piece. I started working with found objects in 1995, way before it became popular. At one point while working on my two big pieces computer / mixed-media pieces ( Birdcage of Love and Art Dresser) I had an aha moment in the lumber yard where I felt sick about all the trees that were being culled for lumber. The very next piece that I did was from a chair that my neighbor had tossed out. The Glass ceiling is the second piece which I made from found objects. In 1995 no one was doing this. I used to tell people, when they asked me what my medium was, that I worked with garbage. Basically, that was the end of the conversation. They had no idea how to respond. I worked in the computer industry at the time as an engineer. Both sculpture and computer engineering are male dominated fields. So I saw women get passed by a lot. I got a bit of a get-out-of-jail card in the computer industry though because I was also an artist and they did not quite know what to make of me.
This is one of my favorite pieces. She is pissed. Maybe you can tell. And very tired of the bs.’
‘Really the simplicity of the piece is that the scull fit right on her head and there it was. It needed little else. I have since painted the skull and the top part of the body a metallic gold so the piece hangs together more as one thing. The juxtaposition of the two very different kinds of objects is what spoke to me. Each alone elicits a specific and very different response. Together they make poetry.’
Between Time (whooosh-worthy)
‘Between Time is about interspace, about the very large space between electrons, about the unceasing unfolding of time. It is about the ongoing cycles of life from the very short to the very very long. It is that space that hangs at the end of a question. Any question. What time is it?’
Birdcage of Love
magi’s commentary, a teaser; the rest is here:
‘”I’m goin’ to the chapel and I’m gonna get married. Goin’ to the Chapel of Love.” Loudspeakers blare this 1950’s pop tune. I wonder. Marriage — myth or reality? Sleeping beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, are all still waiting for Prince Charming. Not only do fairy tales paint rosy futures for little girls, they’ll see it every Saturday in cartoons, hear about it continuously in pop music and find it pervasively throughout the media. But we are never told what happens after marriage. Why is this? Does it end there? We somehow “know” as young children that we will grow up, fall in love, get married and have a family. What is marriage anyway?
‘The full name of the piece is Welfare Madonna Angels in her hair. The body of the piece is a handmade autoharp like instrument. It was left in front of my studio, as things would appear there from time to time that they thought I could use. The instrument was broken and defunct. The way the tangled translucent strings were falling and curling reminded me of ephemeral hair. The image of a welfare Madonna came to me from the Lady Madona song by the Beatles. It is a tribute to the struggles of women who raise children alone.’
‘St. Shirley is one of a series of pieces that I made to honor of specific women — women who may or may not have been remarkable in the eyes of the world but in their own right were amazing, kind and caring women. I wanted to honor these women and all women who have done much of the day to day work of the world without acknowledgment, without pay and often without thanks.’
‘Two other women and I from the local Women’s Caucus for Art chapter put this event together at the UCSC Women’s Center. We had tables full of materials, scissors, and glue guns. People brought their Barbies and made them over. We exhibited the Barbies after the event. The Guerrilla Girls West showed up and all stereotypes were confronted. Everyone had a great time.
magi amma will host the thread, of course.
Here's hoping you all will find her artwork as mind-bending and revelatory as I did. whooosh.
(cross-posted from Café Babylon)