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.’

Glass Ceiling

‘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.’

Resurrection



‘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?

Welfare Madonna



‘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.’

Saint Shirley



‘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.’

Barbie Makeovers

‘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.

a recent work: Global Warning

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)

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QMS's picture

Thanks for sharing!

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Intelligence is being redefined as the ability to repeat ever more complex instructions.

magiamma's picture

@QMS
Kinda mind boggling to see all this stuff again. I have been focused on politics for a while now. I loved doing the Barbie Makeover and watching young women come with barbies and cut their legs off and glue stuff on them. Still makes me smile.

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magiamma's picture

It was clearly a labor of love for you. And the battle still goes on. Progress has happened but so far to go still. When I was young abortions were illegal. Women used coat hangers or had them, as they used to say, in back alleys. Unlearning the acculturation process takes a life time.

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smiley7's picture

@magiamma

passing on, evolving, hopefully; but Mordor never sleeps.

And i just commented to joe that Mother Nature is screaming for this world to stand up and notice.

Cheers.

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magiamma's picture

@smiley7
Guess not from the look of things. Wake up calls pretty much every day now. The young ones are on fire now. They are standing up and mean to be heard. Thanks for stopping by.

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wendy davis's picture

@magiamma

magiamma. iirc, it may have been when i'd bingled to try to discover 'wot the 'ell' a magiamma is that i stumbled upon your site...and was blown away with your oeuvre, your passion, and in many cases, your polemical visual poetry.

a i'd long been more of an accidental feminist, and have lived in the tulies for so many decades, i'd been blithely unaware of the solidarity feminist art movement/s.

oddly, at theCafé i'd put this in the 'resistance under oppression' category but had forgotten tag it that way here. but it is undoubtedly that. the directed fury against institutionalized patriarchy, its antithesis that you also poetically show, the many revelations to all genders of what's been afoot, what might be...stagger me.

i do so hope folks click into your Commentaries tab, and all the the other tabs, especially your Ohlone retrospective catalog pdf (i'd also linked) and keep being surprised, shocked, and begin to internalize the messages within.

the lisa leonard interview as well. opening teaser:
"Freedom has glass chains of fear wrapped about her feet.. oops, knowledge just appeared …tap-tap…watch out for those glass shards. Please hand me the dust pan; this is women’s work. Ignorance leaves such a mess to sweep up.

It was last October, during a pleasant weekend I spent touring Santa Cruz County’s artists’ studios. This annual event, called “Open Studios,” is sponsored by the Santa Cruz Arts Council. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see some of the best art and, better still, to meet the interesting people creating these treasures.

I was in pursuit of it. Of what? I had no idea. (Not an unusual condition for me.) As I strolled up the last driveway of the day’s tour, I thought the elusive “it” might have to wait…Wait! No. Slam my brain into the pavement. “It” was here.

Stopped dead in my tracks, my mouth gaping open, my mind slipping out over my tongue, my world frozen. The driveway poured forth the outline of Nicole Brown Simpson‘s demise, so neatly chalked out. As I read the statement about the issues of domestic violence against women, prepared by the artist, I tried to reach for some composure, thinking to myself, “Don’t step on the crime scene, please, the studio is to your left, guess she doesn’t do floral still life.”

not too shabby herself, lisa leonard.

my best heart to you always, magiamma.
wd

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smiley7's picture

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wendy davis's picture

@smiley7

it was a joyous joint endeavor most of the time; how many emails? we both may have reached frustration level at differet times; there was so much to choose from, images to send, blurbs to feature...but it seems from the response that it was well worth it all; i sure do hoe magi believes so.

lol. and wot? she's gonna do her own diary on her lengthy oeuvre? but i won't divulge what i charged her, that's private, okay? but just remember: i'm a poor blind widdy w/ six hungry chirren, 12 hungry granchirren, okay? now she refuses to fork over for that glass ceiling portrait she did of me, which is fine, but...she dinnae even feature my good side!

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Bollox Ref's picture

I mean wow!!!

Reminds me a little of the pieces that my aunt-in-law used to create, using bits and pieces from the everyday. So many, that she had to rent space.

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

magiamma's picture

@Bollox Ref
I knew this woman who made fairly small wall pieces out of found objects. She volunteered to work on the highway crew so she could pick up weird stuff. They finally let her go (as a volunteer, right) bc she was picking up too much stuff. She stored them everywhere. One day she told us she had her freezer packed with her art. Too funny. I still have a studio so there's that.

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lotlizard's picture

@magiamma  
you (as I did) at first automatically read this as

‘Between Time is about interspace, about the very large space between elections, 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?’

There’s a whimsical humor to the idea that they let your friend go because they thought she was taking home too much of the roadside junk she picked up.

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magiamma's picture

@lotlizard
omfg.... too funny... yes indeedy, those 'interspaces' between elections. I think we have the beginning of something good here. Thanks for the laugh.

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snoopydawg's picture

And imaginative. I have always loved your avatar, but didn't know that you created it.

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Self-censorship actually silences exponentially more anti-establishment opinions. For every one voice you crack down on overtly, a thousand more silence themselves out of self-preservation

magiamma's picture

@snoopydawg
It's pretty weird to see it all up like this. My website is really old and I have not exhibited in a while. I liked exhibiting with the Women's Caucus for Art because so many women would see my work. I felt I was reaching the people I wanted to reach. But, as with many things now, art has become very 'productized', it has become a business, and that is not why I made art. The few pieces I make now are political, though not intentionally so. It's just what I think about and they just end up that way.

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janis b's picture

I would love to hear your unraveling of your recent work "Global Warming'.

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magiamma's picture

@janis b
Smile
The piece is an old toy jack in the box that plays pop goes the weasel. The round thingy on the lid holds the head in place when the lid is closed. Otherwise is gets stuck and does not pop out. It is very funny and very shocking at the same time. Really love watching people's reaction the first time they see it. Kids not so much. I thought it was hilarious when I made it. Really tickled me. The clown in the front is juggling and she has a clock glued where her face should be. Time, clocks, clock parts seem to be things that I am drawn to again and again. The red yarn on the neck and in the collar is blood, because it is. Soft and friendly blood. I really do not think about my work when I make it and have no need to make it say something, no message. The pieces speak differently to different people like poetry does. I wasn't thinking about global warming when I made it but when it was done it was obvious to me that that was what it was about.

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janis b's picture

@magiamma

Like the state of the earth, it’s up and down and on a chaotic time-clock.

It must be very satisfying to do the work and then have the work reveal something new and unexpected.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

excellent work with us, WD. You clearly had to put in quite a bit of time, to produce this essay, and I'm glad you did. Wink

Looking at your sculptures/exhibits, Magiamma, I'm guessing that the Friday Photo OT is pretty much child's play for you. Pleasantry And here I am, still trying to figure out how to operate my cell phone camera. Whew!

Hey, hope you'll consider sharing more of this part of your artistic portfolio with us, from time to time.

Have a good one!

Blue Onyx

"Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong."
~~W. R. Purche

“At the end of the day, people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
~~Maya Angelou

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"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

magiamma's picture

@Unabashed Liberal
Wendy is awesome. Hang in there with your phone. You will be surprised. I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with. My theory has always been, since digital photography came around, to take a hundred pics and expect to get one or two good ones. The Photo OT has a LOT of really good photographers. I am an amateur compared to them. It's a great way to end the week.

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wendy davis's picture

@magiamma
corrected:

wd does some kind and awesome things
wd does some awesomely rubbish things
wd tries to moot the rubbish things
by doing some kind things

that is all. ; )

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wendy davis's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

yeppers, a hella lot of work in fact ( a few weeks' worth off and on for both of us, iirc), but i was highly motivated, and she was willin', so...here we are.

but do check all the series tabs at the top for more images, and her ohlone retrospective (a pdf) as well. may we all be a bit changed and more perceptive after having peeked into magi's world.

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Thank you Wendy. And thank you magi amma. I had no idea.
My daughter is an artist and in her early twenties. I think she would be inspired by your work magi. I'll forward it on.
She and one of her cousins are new-found twins. This cousin had an older sister who was "in to" Barbies. When my niece inherited her older sisters barbie collection, she also had a multi-tiered plastic cabinet with drawers. She put the legs in one drawer. The arms in another. The heads in yet another. My daughter and my niece are forces of nature that give me hope.
On another level, I have to ask about the Saint Shirley chair. I'm not much of an artist, but I might dabble in chairmaking if I ever retire. Besides your art of this chair, the original craft is pretty amazing in itself. Wherever did this come from? I realize some of these things are probably a dime a dozen from Indonesia or somewhere, but to my eye this is the original pattern.
I do like a good chair. And thanks again.

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magiamma's picture

@peachcreek
Thank you peachcreek. Almost everything I use is throw away. People used to give me chairs all the time because I had made artworks with them. That particular chair came from Shirley, whose last name i cannot remember. I am not sure where it originated. Shirley was an older artist and part of an exhibit that I helped organize for the Women's Caucus for Art. We highlighted seven women over 70 who had been doing art all their lives. She gave the chair to me and I made the piece honoring her. Seemed right. Chair making is an art and requires a lot of craft. I only say that because I have taken a bunch of them apart for parts. I think it would be great fun to learn how to make them. I hope you try it.

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@magiamma

Chair making is an art and requires a lot of craft.

I'm much more of a craftsperson than an artist. And, I like the idea of optimized simple and functional designs of true beauty. As an example, there are Windsor chairs out there that because of their design and joinery and craft are incredibly strong and yet weigh very little and will last for generations. Other mimics weigh 5x more and fall apart because the joinery and angles are just wrong. It's mostly figured out, and can be accomplished with minimal tools, it's the execution that's important.
Oh, and again, love your work. I commented on only a few things that popped immediately to the fore. I could have written so much more.

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magiamma's picture

@peachcreek
All crafts require you to be meticulous and consequently are very meditative. One has to be centered when doing joinery, not to mention working w power tools. Demanding. Hard to do when your uptight. And oh so fun when your not. Smile

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Thanks wendy davis and magiamma, I came over here from cafe babylon this morning. lurk wave

My favorite part of the interview was at the end. Art art art! LOL great.

I love art! Where ever I am I go to see the museums. I’ve been to just about all the great art museums in the world. I love good art. But I think my art goes a step beyond just art.

This is another time I bent gender identity in my head, almost never stop to think about it until it's put in front of my face. dunce cap

You left Sun in 91, as I was trying to save body parts from a life of factory work, so I switched to computer work (joke>>me) Never thought about 100 pound CRTs before haha! So much for the knees and back... also ruined my eyesight. too many screens heh Oh well it could have been worse.

Starting out in Tech Support during the 90s, I had to forget my feminist self so I could pay for mortgage, and commute, and the all the other crazy accoutrements that come with that choice. I still have my Systems Software Hawaiian shirt hanging in the closet, for casual Fridays. It is too big of course, what employer wanted to pay for one woman's shirt? None, nobody. Baggy Mens Medium or go without, that's the system. Uptight and sexist it was. Is still, I think. I don't know.

Thanks a lot for hosting the virtual show, "a step beyond just art" LOVE

peace

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magiamma's picture

@eyo
Right, who would ever buy one size small t-shirt. A lot of what continues to exist is under-the-radar stuff like that. It has changed but it amazes me the women still wear high heels. Something deeply primal about that, that it still continues. I'm sure there have been theses written about that. Probably connected to hormones and the hippocampus or something.

Seriously...

what employer wanted to pay for one woman's shirt?

There are so many things that brings up that were so under the radar. Where were the women?

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wendy davis's picture

@eyo @eyo

about spotting this lurking at the café. decloak and comment at will, eyo! (and you're welcome.)

but hell's bells and criminetly: nobody's laughed at my jests!

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I love the imaginative use of found objects and giving them a second life, and how you let them ‘speak’ to you, magiamma.

Wendy Davis, thanks for sharing magiamma’s creations with us.
They are fabulous!

With your permission I’d love to share them and your essay w my peeps.
Will send you a pm.

Thanks again.
Very inspiring!

Sirena

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magiamma's picture

@Sirena
Glad you enjoyed my work. Will check pm.

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mhagle's picture

Just viewing now on Thursday evening at the end of a long day. So nice.

Thanks magiamma and thanks Wendy!

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

magiamma's picture

@mhagle
and a big thanks to Wendy... SmileSmileSmile

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janis b's picture

I am looking forward to an interview with this artist tomorrow on National Radio NZ by my favourite interviewer. I thought you might also be interested.

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magiamma's picture

@janis b
Love his work. I did my grad thesis on the relation of bones to landscape.

It took a while but I now have the app installed to listen. It's not in their library yet but I will listen when it shows up. I missed the event bc I am on the other side of the planet. lol

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janis b's picture

@magiamma

I probably should have waited until the podcast is available so you didn't have to work at finding the way. I'm still on the same side of the planet as you and will listen this weekend.

Your thesis sounds fascinating. See you later

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magiamma's picture

@janis b
too funny. Smile I forgot...

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