In the bag
ART REVIEW By Josef Woodard
ANNE LUTHER TRANSFORMS WOMEN’S HANDBAGS
into Anne Luther’s
new assemblage exhibition at Frameworks Caruso Woods Fine Art Gallery,
unarmed by knowledge of the show’s conceptual foundation, you might
get a misleading first impression.
In her artistic statement for her show, entitled “Bags . . . you are what you carry,” Luther describes coming upon the theme after her mother’s death. She ran across an antique purse similar to one owned by her mother, which she’d seen and wondered about as a child. She quotes Carl Jung on the subject, who deemed the handbag “an archetypal symbol for the fertile womb, the shape, the darkness, the secrecy . . . All that is hidden away.”
may be stretching a bit to make a poetic point, but the core idea
A broken clock is embedded in a shiny red model handbag against a black backdrop in “Margot,” a piece tinged by surrealism, whereas “Marianne” is a small purse shaped like a female torso. Eyeballs replace nipples and the purse is surrounded by rubber baby bottle nipples, shrewdly juxtaposing sexuality and maternity.
Other contrasting impressions liven up the work, as with “Anne,” a violin-shaped case filled with seashells, evoking musical and seaside fantasies.
In “Natalie,” Luther creates a slightly irrational but inherently nostalgic “impossible handbag” by creating one out of sharpened yellow number two pencils. In “Barb,” a tiny bejeweled red purse sits in a display case on a pedestal, as if a prize gem and source of salvation — as hinted at in the accompanying sign “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY BREAK GLASS.” The itty-bitty glass, in fact, is broken. Whether because of an emergency or mere illicit coveting, we’ll never know.
Of the many assemblage works in the show, “Sherry” veers closest to the influence of the looming artist in this medium, Joseph Cornell. With a design akin to Cornell’s famed compartmentalized box works, this wooden box is fitted with a variety of minutiae, which are vaguely nostalgic and presumably precious objects.
is open-to interpretation, like Luther’s other secret-based art, but
the sense of rightness and material beauty is there for the taking.