April 11, 2021 Taos, New Mexico

The Harwood Museum of Art

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Saturday, February 9 - Sunday, May 19, 2019


Gallery: Peter & Madeleine Martin Gallery

Birds of Appetite: Alchemy & Apparition presents work by Izumi Yokoyama and Tasha Ostrander. Yokoyama’s pen & ink drawings and installation and Ostrander’s digital Light Jet prints are drawn from stand-alone series by each artist. Yet their selections for this collaborative project are based upon shared concerns that converge in common themes. Those themes—palpable, stark, and magical—infuse the congruent motifs and visions that animate Birds of Appetite at the same time as convey their unique and personal routes to that congruence.

The common themes in the works of Yokoyama and Ostrander in Birds of Appetite are nature and transformation. Nature embraces all life forms and all environs. It is at once the matrix of matter and dynamic crucible of all change—transformation. It is the locus of the quick and the dead.

The scavenger birds that serve as the foil for Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s introduction to Zen is a metaphor as well for Birds of Appetite: Alchemy & Apparition. Proceeding from very different perspectives, the imagery of each artist quietly subverts the immediate and palpable perception that “life and death are two” with a vision of nature as the denouement of life with death, the transformation of matter—an alchemy of the spirit.

Tasha Ostrander pursues this vision in her Chemical Spirit series of landscapes and portraits: “As an artist, I find source materials and content in our environmental surroundings, looking for the border where harmony and disruption meet, and where we can offer remedy to imbalance. In the Chemical Spirit Landscape series I have visually layered an oily and pervasive substance upon the landscape to alter the appearance, symbolizing an invasive spirit or stain that co- exists with wild environments”

Izumi Yokoyama’s Mugen – Infinitude and Dreamer on the Mesa series share this fundamental role of nature as a crucible of matter. Her intricate ink pen drawings in both series represent significant and transformative phases in life. As a Japanese artist living in Taos, the aesthetic ties of her work to the metaphor of Zen and the birds of appetite are informed as well by her cultural context: " At the Hiroshima peace memorial, I saw the black rained walls and clothes. Since I was a child, I was intrigued and obsessed by black rain. I am connecting the line to the empty holes of stars in the night sky as the lines are falling from the holes...”.

While the term “magic realism” denotes a Surrealist offshoot from the 1940s featuring the insertion of fantastic elements in ‘factual’ Latin American literature, it aptly describes the art of both artists here where their probing of the sensible world through surreal, dreamlike depiction yields profound insights into modern life—fragile mythic narratives of discontinuity and harmony.

What makes Birds of Appetite so engaging is the sheer beauty of the imagery by Yokoyama and Ostrander. What makes it so potent is their capacity to imbue those images with compelling visual conceits on nature and transformation.

Guest curated by Dr. Richard Tobin.