Signs of Life: Mandy Greer at Museum of Contemporary Craft

This weekend David and I went to Oregon.  We saw Seattle artist Mandy Greer‘s installation Dare alla Luce at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, which we missed when it debuted last summer at Bellevue Arts Museum.

Mandy Greer. Dulce Alla Luce (detail). Installation, 2008. Photo by Nora Atkinson.

Mandy Greer. Dare Alla Luce (detail). Installation, 2008. Photo by Nora Atkinson.

Part mythological stage set and part autobiographical reflection on the act of giving birth, Dare Alla Luce is an immersive environment of organic excess.  Treelike armatures sway under the weight of thousands of crocheted strands of beads and fabricated fruits. Meticulously adorned stars and planets preside over an enormous pelican—a medieval symbol of self-sacrifice—barfing out an ecstatic stream of effluvient handiwork representing the Milky Way.

Mandy Greer. Dare Alla Luce. Installation view at Bellevue Arts Museum, 2008. Photo by Nora Atkinson.

Mandy Greer. Dare Alla Luce. Installation view at Bellevue Arts Museum, 2008. Photo by Nora Atkinson.

After leaving the museum, we went to check out nearby Multnomah Falls, the tallest (and perhaps most touristy) waterfall in Oregon.

Multnoma Falls, Oregon. Photo by Emily Pothast.

Multnoma Falls, Oregon.

It was the perfect chaser for Mandy Greer’s installation (on the vernal equinox, even!)  Like the life-giving elixir foaming from the mouth of Greer’s Pelican Goddess, the spray from Multnomah Falls makes the already verdant surrounding area so damp that mosses and mushrooms spring from every surface of every surface, eternally engaged in the silent tumult of birth, growth and decay.

Mossy rocks, Multnomah Falls, Oregon. Photo by Emily Pothast.

Mossy rocks, Multnomah Falls, Oregon.

Indeed, Mandy Greer’s installation is intensely evocative of such natural themes.  In an excellent article in the current issue of Fiberarts Magazine, Suzanne Beal notes,

Greer’s work, which often suggests things simultaneously coming together and falling apart, is startlingly effective viewed within the context of organic matter; a reminder of the shedding, both real and figurative, that accompanies all growth.

The context for Beal’s observation is The Silvering Path, a multimedia collaboration with dancer/choreographer Haruko Nishimura and filmmaker Ian Lucero, for which Greer provided costumes and set elements.  The combination of Greer’s aesthetic of emergence with living performers and a natural environment—the project was filmed on location at Smoke Farm in Arlington, WA—is transcendent.

Mandy Greer, Ian Lucero and Haruko Nishimura. Still from The Silvering Path, 2008.

Mandy Greer, Ian Lucero and Haruko Nishimura. Still from The Silvering Path, 2008.

Dare Alla Luce runs through May 31 at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR.  More images and information on Mandy Greer’s projects may be found on the artist’s blog.

~ by emilypothast on March 23, 2009.

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