The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Physiotasmagorical at A.P.E. Gallery March 7 - 30, 2024

WHERE: A.P.E. Gallery  126 Main Street, Northampton, MA
WHEN: March 7 - 30, 2024
March 8, 5 - 8 pm Opening Reception,  Arts Night Out
March 29, 7 - 8 pm  Gallery Talk by Curator

The artists in Physiotasmagorical investigate corporeal secrets that reside at the juncture of the clinical and the imaginary. The domain of these artists is a spectacle of implicit knowledge. They question what is inside the body as a search for the definition of who we are outside. What effects do our internal phenomena have on our defining characteristics of both body and mind? How does the somatic self reveal our unique human reality? Intentional awareness of sensation, our “gut instinct,” reveals knowledge that is an embodied subject of “self.” The wisdom of the body is vague, invisible and powerful; a cabinet of curiosities. If phantasmagoric refers to “dream-like blurring of real and imaginary elements,” the addition of “physio” associates these works of art to the body as fantastic conjurings of our internal selves. The subject of “self” is both democratizing and unique, human being to human being. curated by Susan Sensemann

Carolynn Desch Chicago, IL
Christa Donner Sunderland, MA
Michael Medeiros South Hadley, MA
Bobbi Meier Chicago, IL
Deb Mell Truro, MA
Melissa Oresky Bloomington, IL
Susan Sensemann Easthampton, MA


About the Artists:
(Quoted phrases are those of the artists)

Installation works by CAROLYNN DESCH embody her curiosity about “the emotional and physical fragility of the human mind and body” and the “physical part of the psyche.” Using wool, felt, sterling silver and industrial foam, she depicts blood, glands, and organs as they might appear and function as “unnaturally rational” if re-designed for greater simplicity, efficiency and style. “I look at the forces of our senses combined with our emotional response to our world and conceptualize my realizations. Always, there are the questions of why and how. How do the laws of chemistry, mechanics and physics, along with social and emotional forces come together to allow us to function?” 

CHRISTA DONNER writes,“Drawing is my microscope and my scalpel: the tools with which I investigate the body and its metaphors. My recent work reimagines hybrid human anatomies visibly merged with the multispecies communities we are a part of. Every body is a complex ecosystem, a microbiome both impacting and impacted by what’s outside it. Paper offers an ideal matrix through which to explore the fragile but flexible nature of these interdependent systems. Through the fluid medium of ink, I propose speculative models that move between the emotional architecture of our own bodies and the layered history of the world we inhabit…I’m leaning into “super-natural” elements of the natural world…our own animal-ness and interdependence with other organisms.”

MICHAEL MEDEIROS is a poet, potter and historian whose writing and ceramic installations include references to organic systems in gardens, forests and the body. Metaphor drives the imagery of his work within subjects as diverse as Emily Dickinson’s home and poetry and the history of industry in New Bedford. Collaborative projects have included sound, participation by other artists, writers and passersby. "Achilles is an exploration, through ceramic and poetry, of notions of ability and disability, and of perceptions of functionality and how to exist with a failure to function as hoped and intended.” The “crocks”suggest generosity - personal and communal renewal.

BOBBI MEIER’S sculpture, tapestries and installations reveal “sex, secrets and surgery” as she explores desire and embarrassment toward the body, domesticity and family through humor in abstract form. Works like Strange Etiquette and Rebellious Fibers “are emotional repositories for the feelings we hide and thoughts that remain unspoken….In 2017, I made a grid of intimate soft sculptural objects titled Everything Was Going So Well, as a reaction to several years caregiving for sick and dying friends and family members. In 2020, anticipating a pandemic and looming lockdown, I made a sculpture a day using only existing materials in my home studio…The bundles bring me a sense of reassurance in a world that is never without madness and always in need of solace.”

DEB MELL’S paintings and sculptures are inhabited by hybrid beings, part human and part animal, that are nameless, vividly specific, familiar, totemic, comic, surreal, joyful and macabre. As they inhabit their own fields of dream, they embody the mysteries of the viewer’s desires, emotion and instincts. “I think of people and animals and nature as all part of one thing.” A recurring image is a domelike shape, the Cahokia Mounds near her home in Southern Illinois. “I think about my past and the stories that weren’t told. Your past and who you are is always with you.” Her work is encrusted with beads, bones, cut up cans, talons, plastic spiders, roses, pearls, matches, feathers, sequins, bones… layered and layered to make visionary creatures that are personal, political and spirit-ish.

The “brain” is re-fathomed in MELISSA ORESKY’S subjects as a fluid conversation of abstract forms. As a doubled Rorschach test of familiar and abbreviated parts of the body, this abstracted brain is constructed with layers of paint, ink and collage. The second piece, Specter 2, might be body - debris of human or plant organism that is rooted within her shifts between painting and drawing. Here, an imagined MRI converses with a tangled, jangled bit of lived experience as illness and healing unfold. Oresky’s current mixed media work includes video, sculpture and site-specific interactive projects. Her studio practice is one of “growing” her art through iterative processes over a long period of time like the aliveness of environmental consciousness and imaginative reconstruction.

SUSAN SENSEMANN’S large and mid-scale paintings, drawings and polymer clay sculptures, 2023 - 2024, are works in two ongoing series: Some-body’s Body and Corporeal Secrets. Her semi-anatomical imagery is derived from illustrations in Netter’s, Gray’s Anatomy and other medical texts as well as 18 c wax figures by the anatomist, Anna Morandi Manzolini. “Although a heart is a heart, and your pituitary gland resembles mine, I title each piece with specificity such as Woman Listening to Roy Orbison/lacrymal glands. We inhabit bodies that are remarkably and relatively similar as well unimaginably unique.” A series of giclee prints of cut paper collages are constructs of her cast of characters: Runaway, Queen, Painter, Moongazer and other familiars in an internal family of advisors, fools and fantacists.

Stay tuned for updates on our Upcoming page:

Available Potential Enterprises, Ltd. (A.P.E.) is an artist-led, artist-centered 501(c)3 non-profit organization supporting contemporary artists working in all disciplines by stewarding the spaces in which they create, perform and exhibit their work. A.P.E is dedicated to fostering relationships, encounters, and exchanges that nourish the capacity for imagination.; 413.586.5553

This event is made possible in part through support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

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