“An ecstatic vision of an alternate universe.
A space of sanctuary unencumbered by God or patriarchy.
A blood-soaked, clothing-optional, occult paradise.
The stuff of nightmares.
The stuff of dreams.”
KRISTEN J. SOLLEE *From Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive (ThreeL 2017)
Inspired by Lorena Torres Martell images
Opening March 4, 2021, at The Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick, is my next collaborative curatorial effort “TRANSMUTATIONS.. Witches, Healers and Oracles” which will present the esoteric photographic works of Lorena Torres Martell, Courtney Brooke, Alexis Karl, Destiny Turner, and Nahw Yg, with quotes by renowned author Kristen J. Sollee.
The exhibition features artists who have channeled their life experiences and ordeals into their art-making, using the languages and aesthetics of the esoteric, witchcraft, shamanism, and which imply the conjuring and manipulation of magic forces.
The exhibition will also feature vernacular and historical photographic works, including works from our collection of vintage lobby cards, as well as the early 20th-century photography of William Mortensen, Walter Bird, John Everard, Roland Henricks, among many others.
“This land is alive.
The bedrock her marrow, craggy cliffs that undulate upward her spine, trees connective tissue.
Skin and hair a skein of pine needles, almost noxious in their fragrance. Animals—mice, deer, wildcats, and birds—are her blood, teeming, scheming, stalking amongst her spindly bones.
The path that curves up to her back slides between rows of tall, tall
conifers like a lone finger raking through her thick green mane.
Black clouds billow above like smoke from the fires that hail the great below.”
KRISTEN J. SOLLEE * From Witch Hunt: A Traveler’s Guide to the Power and Persecution of the Witch (Weiser 2020)
Inspired by Alexis Karl images
TRANSMUTATIONS.. suggests the action of changing or the state of being changed into another form.. either in actual form from matriarch to witch or shaman (and back again), from darkness to light, from mundane to supernatural.. the possibilities are endless.
It’s a carefully crafted selection of five women artists at various stages of development both as artists and practitioners, not that they are necessarily practitioners of witchcraft. They are what I call ‘authentic’, and this is rooted in my immersion in outsider art, the embracing of artists who come to their craft not through academically learned aesthetic discourse but rather through their own life experiences, their trauma, their ordeals, and they channel that experience into their art-making.
The viewers, it is my hope, will interpret the works through their own subjective experience and appreciate them. The subtitle “witches, healers, oracles” is just as meaningful as these artists produce their art for the greater good of social healing, creating spells and conjures to protect the viewers against malevolent forces, and divesting them of their negative energies through the experience of interacting with the art. It’s a beautiful kind of witchcraft, one with altruistic intentions.
Strung together, sinew packed the fearful symmetry of a cat by nature shifts shape.
Clavicles float free, anchored only in muscle.
Ribs tighten then protract.
Low and flat, lean and narrow, coiled serpentine, hair-on-end exalting in taking-up-space.
A compressible creature, shape-shifter.
Physicality fluid, befitting any situation or inquisitive whim.
Whiskers splayed wide,
Sensing when her transformation should begin.”
KRISTEN J. SOLLEE * From Cat Call: Reclaiming the Feral Feminine (Weiser 2019)
Inspired by Destiny Turner images
The exhibition proposes that the way of the witch, the esoteric, the left-hand path, is the most rewarding and enriching for the quality of our lives, which after all is the grand purpose of art.
The exhibtion this time around is exclusively photography with some unconventional elements such as press photographs, cinema lobby cards of some of my favorite films on the subject of witchcraft including “Simon King of the Witches” one of the most f**ed up films ever made, “Mario Mercier’s “La Papesse” an unacknowledged masterpiece of erotic occult cinema. Mario is a friend and now a shaman, he only made a couple of films in his time, but for me they serve as quintessential examples of the power of occult cinema. Also included are lobby cards from “Invitation to Lust”, “The Virgin Witch”, among others.
This is the fourth exhibition I Romano have curated for the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick. Previous exhibitions have included the wildly popular “William Mortensen’s WITCHES”, a selection from my comprehensive collection of works by the artist, “Barry William Hale” the first-ever solo exhibition by the world-renowned Australian artist who is a member of Ordo Templi Orientis, and “Apparitions.. ” which presented over 40 works from my collection on the subject of ghosts, spirits and the paranormal ranging in dates of creation from the early 1600’s to the present.
The exhibition will open MARCH 4 and continue through APRIL 31 2021.
My witches are…
KRISTEN J. SOLLEE
“The witch is a shapeshifter.
She transforms from vixen to hag, healer to hellion, adversary to advocate based on who seeks her.
She’s Hecate, the ancient Greek goddess of the crossroads.
She’s Lilith, the blood-drinking demoness of Jewish mythology who refused to submit sexually to her husband.
She’s Baba Yaga, the Slavic hag in a chicken-legged hut who flourishes in the forest.
She’s Yamauba, the monstrous Japanese mountain crone who feasts on human flesh in her tattered kimono.
She’s Joan of Arc, the French military hero in white armor burned by her brethren for cross-dressing and heresy.
She’s Marie Laveau, the powerful Voodoo Queen of nineteenth-century New Orleans.
She’s Elvira, vamping with a crucifix in her bountiful cleavage, dishing out double entendres.
She’s Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen shot for her feminist advocacy and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
She’s the bruja at the botánica.
She’s the practitioner of granny magic, hoodoo, and conjure.
She’s the everyday intuitive, seeing and hearing things others do not.
The witch is at once female divinity, female ferocity, and female transgression.
She is all and she is one.
The witch has as many moods and as many faces as the moon.
Most of all, she is misunderstood.”
KRISTEN J. SOLLEE * From Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive (ThreeL 2017)
Kristen J. Sollée is the author of three critically-acclaimed books on the legacy of the witch: Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive; Cat Call: Reclaiming the Feral Feminine; and Witch Hunt: A Traveler’s Guide to the Power and Persecution of the Witch. A writer, curator, and educator exploring the intersections of art, gender, and the occult, Kristen has been featured on NPR and in The Guardian. She currently teaches at The New School in New York City.
Destiny Turner is a multi-media artist from Alabama, presently living in Ohio. Her works have recently been featured in Lexiconmag, BlackFlowers Online, and an in-depth profile was published in White Hot Contemporary, one of the leading online publications of contemporary art.
In January 2021 Vittoria Benzine wrote of Destiny Turner “.. This improvisational approach, paired with Turner’s harrowing emotional depth, yields results that plunge viewers into a tangle of synapses. The rawness .. in Turner’s work arises from schisms within the artist herself. Turner is at once youthful and weathered, with radiant energy and a soft speaking voice that counter-intuitively conveys world-weariness. When she works with paint, the frenetic patterns betray a fight with herself — the viewer is merely a voyeur.”
When asked recently by Melolagnia what the common themes that string her work together she responded “..The cycle of death and rebirth that we go through, and shadow work, something that’s just ever-present in my thoughts..”
From the artist:
“come with me
look through the hazy lens of the abyss
where life and death softly kiss “
Alexis Karl is a filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist living and working in NYC. Karl is currently a professor of installation and multidisciplinary art at Pratt Institute, and a regular lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum and National Arts Club on the relevance of fashion, fragrance, and film on modern and historical-artistic culture.
Her films, installations and live performances have been featured in festivals and exhibitions around the world, most notably the Whitney Museum of Art, The Guggenheim Museum, Stephen Romano Gallery, The Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick, The Morbid Anatomy Museum, Scope Art Fair, Katra Film Festival, Los Angeles Fashion Festival, Bowery Film Festival. Karl has won acclaim at film festivals internationally and nationally, and her film and multidisciplinary work has been featured in New York Times: Women in The World, NY Post, Elysian Magazine, Gothic Beauty Magazine, Heathen Harvest, Honeysuckle Magazine, London Financial Times, Atlas Obscura, Bustle Magazine; with TV and Radio spots on Salford City Radio UK, WMBR Bat’s In The Belfry Radio Boston, CNN and The View.
From the artist:
“My film Oracle is a spell.
Every one of the Oracle’s movements is a moment of magic; A step upon the verdant ground, a glance into the scrying bowl filled with rain water, an incantation tumbling from her lips and spirited away on swells of music. In each of these moments, the Oracle harnesses the elements, calling forth visions of an uncertain future. Her growing fury demands the rewriting of the world, and we leave her there-a daughter of the dusk, cloaked in the spells of rituals past.”
Courtney Brooke (1980, New England, United States) is a photographer and conceptual artist. She explores the ties of the feminine to nature and spirituality through the lens of nostalgia. Moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate human drama and clarify our cosmic existence while finding the poetic meaning in everyday life.
“My work explores the relationship between the feminine, the natural world, and spirituality.
With influences such as witchcraft, the romantics, mother earth and death, I am exploring what it is to exist in a human form.
Ever since I was an adolescent I have been fascinated by the unrelenting pressure of time and its relationship to beauty. What starts out as yearning soon becomes manipulated into a tragedy of temptation, leaving only a sense of nihilism and the prospect of a new beginning.
I strive to create a visual moment that urges the viewer to question spirituality, the human experience and one’s own connection to the universe.”
Excepted from “Front line Nurse Nahw Yg’s Cathartic Photographs In The Time Of The Covid Pandemic.” by Stephen Romano on Bored Panda November 2020:
Nahw Yg is an Autodidact. (An autodidact ( ancient Greek αὐτός autos ‘self’ and διδάσκειν didaskein ‘teach’) is a person who independently acquires knowledge or skills or has acquired them through observation, experiments, practice or reading. A directed autodidactic learning process is also referred to as self-study, in contrast to formalized study at a university*). She didn’t go to any art school or apprentice with a professional. Instead, she attended medical school at 17 years old and began to work in the field at 19. According to her, she “did many stages in psychiatry and disabled people, my “specialty” .. she developed a private practice as a Craniosacral therapy**. She says “I have been working in a hospital for 10 years and then quit it to explore other sides of caring. Recently i came to hospital as volunteer during the Covid phase..”
Nahw Yg says she began photography 8 years ago.. When asked about what inspired her to pick up a camera her reply is about as beautiful and sublime as her photographs themselves. “Inner Emotions and feelings led me to begin photography. It was almost metaphysical, to express through the body the hardly expressible, the intangible/invisible. I create like I smile or cry, an impulse’.
From the artist:
“My practice of photography is instinctive. I try to give shape to the invisible, to my inner feelings. To All those questioning what we hold as the human beings we are. More particularly as a woman.
In the beginning, I think they were egotistical and therapeutic self-portraits. Over time, I adopted a more universal feminine language, more structured and deeply rooted with my embodiment of the “animal woman” archetype, connected with nature and feelings, free and claiming.”
More info: romanoart.com#1
Vintage Snapshot Circa 1930’s ‘Three Witches”
Lorena Torres Martell “Coven”. 2021 Digitally Manipulated Photograph
Courtney Brooke “Hamon” Photograph
Courtney Brooke “Sabbath” Photograph
Alexis Karl Still From “The Oracle”
Vintage Lobby Card Ultra Violet In “Simon King Of The Witches” 1971
International News Photos – “Devotee Of A Witchcraft Cult In Brazil” 1956
Vintage Lobby Card 1969
Ap Photo Herbalist And African Healer Cecilia Chingasiye, Zimbabew 1986
William Mortensen “Ho Ho Off To Sabbath” Unique Bromide Print 1928
Lorena Torres Martell “Diabolique” 2020. Self Portrait Digitally Manipulated Photograph
Lorena Torres Martel “Noctícula” 2020 Digitally Manipulated Photograph
Lorena Torres Martel “Into My Dead Eyes” 2021 Digitally Manipulated Photograph
Courtney Brooke “East Of The Sun” Photograph
Courtney Brooke “Purification” Photograph
Courtney Brooke “Crimson Light, Self Portrait” Photograph
Destiny Turner ‘Ohio Swamp Witch’ Photograph
Destiny Turner ‘Ritual’ Photograph
Courtney Brooke “Gilded” Photograph
Alexis Karl Still From “The Oracle”
Alexis Karl Still From “The Oracle”
Alexis Karl Still From “The Oracle”
Destiny Turner ‘The Shadow And The Light’ Photograph
Destiny Turner ‘These Romantic Afflictions’ Photograph
Nahw Yg “The Owl” 2020 Manipulated Photograph
Nahw Yg “Anthropomorphism” 2020 Manipulated Photograph
Nahw Yg “The Ritual” 2020 Manipulated Photograph
Nahw Yg “Archeology Of Desire” 2020 Manipulated Photograph
Nahw Yg “Sea Of Fire” 2020 Manipulated Photograph
Vintage Snapshots “Boy Witch” Circa 1940s
Acme Newspictures Inc “Accused Of Witchcraft” 1938
Mario Mercier Vintage Lobby Card For “La Papesse” 1975
Signed Ex-Playmate Mary Collinson “Twins Of Evil” Hammer Films 1971
Black Sabbath Vintage First Pressing Of Debut Album Cover Photo By “Keef”
Original Lobby Card “The Virgin Witch” 1971
William Mortensen “The Old Hag” Unique Bromide Print 1928
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collector, curator, private art dealer. I Live in Brooklyn since 1996, and my goal is to perpetuate the art of the esoteric.. Recent collaborations with Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Reina Sophia Museum in Madrid, The American Folk Art Museum, Gagosian Gallery, Dark Mofo Festival in Tasmania, Pratt Institute, special exhibitions for The New York Book and Ephemera Fair, Morbid Anatomy at Greenwood Cemetery and most recently the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick in Cleveland and a curator in residency with Monster Brains.
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