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Lissa Brown’s Human Nature show at Wunderkammer
By Rebecca Stockert
Fort Wayne Reader
As you walk into the gallery housing Lissa Brown’s show Human Nature at Wunderkammer your eyes are immediately drawn to a large, consuming, dark blue wall at the other end of the room. The wall is covered in a dark indigo paint with a sparkling gold geometric symbol, which at first glance speaks of ritual. All around the room, watercolors fill the white walls, sparkling with more indigo, gold paint, and the colors of precious gems and stones.
Brown explains that she loves working with indigo because it is non-threatening and makes all the other colors in her work pop. “The gold piece in the middle is called metatron’s cube which a piece of sacred geometry,” she says. “Sacred geometry is the mathematics of creation.”
Brown’s body of work revolves around sacred themes: women, nature, geometry, environmentalism, ritual, and more. The work includes pieces titled Mother’s Medicine and Sacred Yoni. All around the room, symbols and rituals abound. Images of sacred geometry, gems, women’s bodies, eyes, cosmic environments, mushrooms, marijuana, and political posters take up the walls, speaking of compassion and power.
She explains that much of her work revolves around women and nature. More specifically, ecofeminism: “My heart lays in this ecofeminist idea...it’s really important that we, as women, remember our place in our connection with the earth.”
She goes on to talk about the disconnect between women and the earth that was prevalent in ancient matriarchal societies; she explains that her work encourages the lost reconnection of women with the earth. Some would claim that industrialization has helped create a schism between women and nature, as the masculine parts of humanity use the earth, without consent, to gain control, power, and profit. Brown wants her work to help facilitate that re-connection between women and their bodies and, hence, the earth. Her hope is that, eventually, the feminine connection with the earth will begin a healing process for the planet.
The idea of using the gifts of Mother Earth, such as marijuana, echinacea, and mushrooms (all of which are prevalent in Brown’s imagery), is a common idea in many feminist circles, and beyond. The mushrooms, however, tell a different story than what one might initially think (ie. psychedelics). Brown explains that she uses images mushrooms in her work to signify the connectedness of society: “Anything you see above ground is just a singular expression of the mushroom. There is this huge underground network called the mycelium which is actually kind of like this root system. Technically, you can have a mushroom be a square mile because it’s the mycelium network under the earth.” She uses this to express her gratitude to sisterhood and encourages all women to tend to their roots.
Brown’s activist nature and creative talent has given her the opportunity to work with the Amplifer Art Foundation, an arts activism organization. She is part of a traveling art show with work made in response to the Women’s March in Washington D.C. and across the country, earlier this year. The foundation selected 50 pieces from 5,000 submissions to be part of the traveling exhibit. Three of those were made by Brown.
Because of her involvement with the Amplifier Art Foundation and the Women’s March, Brown has become somewhat of an Instagram superstar. She currently has 18,000 followers and counting. The Instagram following has been a boon for Brown, as well as the people who follow her. She uses her Instagram account as a ‘safe space’ (imagine have a safe space in which 18,000 people have their eyes on you!) for her own creative emotional journey, as well as a place where other women can come to grow and connect.
Brown reveals that she often gets private messages on Instagram from women coming to her for support. For example, she might get a message from a teenage girl who identifies as a feminist but the idea is being rejected by her family; how can she deal with that? Brown is also held accountable by her Instagram account. If she doesn’t post regularly, she hears from her followers.
Before the show at Wunderkammer comes down, Brown is facilitating two more events that you won’t want to miss: Women’s Mural Takeover Night with Fort Wayne Free Art Collective on September 7 and Women’s Creative Entrepreneurship Night on September 21. Both events are open for the public to peruse; Brown’s intent with these events is to highlight women artists in our city.
Women’s Mural Takeover Night is a way to address the issue of diversity in the city’s fledgling mural population. Nearly all of the murals created to this point have been made by white guys. Brown would like to show the community that women, too, have the capacity to make murals and, in essence, throw her hat into the ring. Artists Leigha VandeZande and Dria Iris will be working with Brown that evening to create a mural in Wunderkammer’s Garden of Eden.
Brown imagines Women’s Creative Entrepreneurship Night as a kind of “meet your maker” type of event in which the public gets to mingle with the women artists they adore so much. As well, the event will be a great networking opportunity for the lady makers. Approximately fifteen women artists plan to set up. Check out Wunderkammer’s facebook page to get more details on the events.
Check out Brown’s instagram account at: Instagram.com/tiny_lementine_art
Human Nature runs through the end of September at Wunderkammer
3401 Fairfield Avenue