We’re all aswoon over the new paired exhibitions at Seattle’s Roq La Rue Gallery: “Ghost Heart” by American sculptor and jewelry designer Debra Baxter and “Incandescence” by Vancouver, BC-based narrative painter Rebecca Chaperon.
“Roq La Rue is very pleased to present two dynamic shows for the month of April. Both artists explore natural forms, most particularly crystalline shapes, in both media and subject. Crystals are an integral aspect to both the hard earth science of geology, as well as a key component in various mystical studies, with an array of attributes and powers attributed to them. Occasionally dismissed as just fluffy “woo woo” mystical mumbo jumbo coming from the New Age movement – crystals actually have been revered by various cultures throughout time both for their perceived occult qualities as well as their sheer beauty.”
Baxter’s new show draws inspiration from a fascinating medical phenomenon known as the “Ghost Heart,” the result of a medical process developed by American scientist Dr. Doris Taylor. To create a ghost heart, a heart is decellularized – soaked and stripped of everything until all that remains is a “protein scaffold,” not unlike reducing a house to its basic two-by-four frame. When that colorless, lifeless “ghost heart” is injected with hundreds of millions of blood or bone marrow stem cells (say, from a person in need of a heart transplant) and placed in a bioreactor, which pumps blood and oxygen into the heart, the heart will resume beating.
“This sparked a series of ruminations within the artist about what the boundary between life and death actually is and how the line is more amorphous that previously believed. Simultaneously, she became intrigued with the popular Victorian era iconography of disembodied hands that existed predominantly in jewelry, in glass and on gravestones. The attributed meaning of that symbolism is depicting the spirit of a passed person guiding a dying loved one into the next life.”
Even if you aren’t already familiar with Debra Baxter’s work, you’ve likely already glimpsed her piece entitled “I’m Going To Rearrange Your Chakras, Motherfucker.” This jaw-dropping set of crystal brass knuckles understandably set the internets on fire, though sadly often without attribution to Baxter.
“Playing with the idea of the mystic powers conferred on crystals while poking a little fun at the concept, the piece is still a powerful piece of “protective armor”, capable of defending the wearer not just psychically, but also physically. (One set of her Crystal Knuckles in the collection of the Smithsonian and we will have her newest set!)”
Meanwhile, Rebecca Chaperon’s haunting “Incandescence” paintings depict a series of impossibly buoyant and hovering crystal forms, each surrounded by darkness save for their own internal radiance, mirroring “the psychic balance between light and dark. Only in the darkness can we see things glow and show their truly luminous spirit.”
“Suspended in time and space, these luminescent icebergs and crystalline bodies are alive with light, incandescent nomads afloat in slow movement or temporarily caught in harmonic balance. Depicted in their somnambulant state above dark seas and land, the crystals are an evolution on the artist’s previous, more abstract, series of crystals with flat “blank” backgrounds. In “Incandescence” they are brought to life, to glow in the dark, or be peered at through the mouth of a cave. In this exhibition, icebergs are the water-bound, distant cousins to the crystal forms, also floating and exploring unfamiliar realms. Chaperon’s work investigates themes of escapism and embraces the shadow-self in order to produce work that calms chaos and invokes balance and quiet contemplation.”
“Ghost Heart” and “Incandescence” will be on display together at Roq La Rue Gallery through May 5, 2019.