Nancy Bowen “Spectral Evidence”
CAS will present “Spectral Evidence” a sculptural installation by Brooklyn based artist Nancy Bowen at the Laundry King. The exhibitions will be on view Saturday, May 8 – Saturday, June 19, 2021.
Inspired by a true story of Colonial American judgement and repentance, Bowen creates a visual interpretation of guilt and remorse. Bowen’s ancestor Samuel Sewall was a judge in the Salem witch trials who later publicly recanted and confessed his sins in church. The installation visually interprets his penitence and gives space for the people killed as witches as a result of the trials. Twenty gravestones face off their accuser while he bears the burden of their deaths. Riffing off Early American gravestone imagery Bowen deconstructs the “death head” image to create winged creatures with feet stuck in the amorphously shaped stones. The dead could rise again- at least in spirit. While these sculptures were originally conceived as gravestones honoring the wrongfully killed, they took on layers of meaning during their making. They became markers of Covid death, of gun violence death, and of other senseless killings. They took on a feeling of collective mourning for all that has been lost during these difficult times.
The figure sculpture inspired by Samuel Sewall himself depicts a rambunctious version of a hair shirt standing atop a scaffolding covered with gallows. More tiny gallows hang from shanks of hair in the shirt and cascade onto the scaffolding. The figure offers a bowl to the heavens in hopes of better times. This representation of guilt and shame is a vibrant and slightly humorous apparition, a visual cautionary tale. Along with the sculptural installation Bowen is showing a suite of collages that accompany the 46 stanzas of Elizabeth Willis’ poem, The Witch. Willis, herself a descendant of one of the alleged witches, has written a luminous poem that combines folklore and observation into a celebration of women.
Nancy Bowen is a mixed media artist known for her eclectic mixtures of imagery and materials in both two and three dimensions. Her sculpture and drawing exists in an in -between zone of form and idea, of abstraction and representation. Her work offers a poetic commentary on our quickly changing material culture. Bowen has had over a dozen solo exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe including the Lesley Heller Galleryin NYC, Annina Nosei Gallery in NYC, Galerie Farideh Cadot in Paris, the Betsy Rosenfield gallery in Chicago, and the James Gallery in Houston. She has been included in group shows in various museums around the country. She has won awards from Anonymous was a Woman, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, The Jentel Foundation and the European Ceramic Work Center among others.
Saturday, May 8, 2021 – Artists Talk and Opening Reception
CAS will host an Artists Talk at 3-4pm, followed immediately by a free Opening Reception from 4-5pm. Laundry King hours are 11am – 5pm Fridays – Saturdays, and Sundays 11am – 3pm.