Wear Your Love Like Heaven
March 12 – May 28, 2022
In 1967, the year Donovan’s “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” first played on the radio, a generation of artists sought higher consciousness and citizens protested against global violence and inequality. In our current moment of conflict, poignancy and possibility, Donovan’s soulful directive echoes as an invitation to bear witness once again to our infinitely multiplying ways of being. The artists of Wear Your Love Like Heaven each use contemporary processes and concepts to propose a paradigm shift, suggesting a spectrum of existence beyond what we currently perceive, and portraying vivid, hopeful new ways of being, as well as courageous methods for perceiving–and loving–one another.
Wear Your Love Like Heaven includes recent works by the artists Merryn Omotayo Alaka, Rachel Bess, Enrique Chagoya, Sonya Clark, Binh Danh, Ben Durham, Ala Ebtekar, Angela Ellsworth, Sam Fresquez, Carrie Marill, Marie Navarre, Charlotte Potter, Ato Ribeiro, Julianne Swartz, and Benjamin Timpson. While recalling past social movements toward spirituality and sensuality, each artist proposes a contemporary template for honoring our miraculous multiplicity of senses and experiences.
The mysticism of Donavan’s anthem is but a moment in a deep chronology of spiritual seeking: Ala Ebtekar’s Zenith series is influenced by writings of the 11th-century Islamic philosopher Suhrawardi, who proposed a framework for understanding the universe based on properties of illumination and intuition. In Ebtekar’s rendering, the cyanotype process, in which an iron-red ferrous solution is exposed to UV light to produce vivid cyan, becomes an alchemical technique merging earthly matter and myth, painting and photographic methods. The works in Zenith were exposed at the sun’s zenith in the sky for a single day in each of the four seasons, connecting human and cosmic timescales.
In art and life, Ato Ribeiro is fortified by the Adinkra symbol of Sankofa, which “directs us to return and retrieve that which may be valuable or forgotten.” The Ghanaian-American artist’s fascinating hand-marqueted constructions of found wood reflect on the value of discarded materials as a metaphor for bodies and lives, and are inspired by his conversations with diasporic peoples throughout the American landscape. These stories resonate through the hypnotic combinations of symbols and patterns collected in Ribeiro’s work, just as the spiritual directive communicated by Sankofa threads through the works in Wear Your Love Like Heaven.
Ancient materials of our universe generate and regenerate in vast permutations of life and meaning; in the spare and exhilarating photographic constructions of Marie Navarre, this cycle is made manifest via the mysterious arrangements of the natural world, which the artist captures in photographs and photo collages. Navarre’s works seem to isolate silent moments of the world becoming and remembering, and her recent work is influenced in part by the writing of 1960’s philosopher Alan Watts. The artist remarks, “My work is very much informed by the difficult state of the world at this moment but also by my sense that living beings do have the capacity–maybe even the nature–to bloom, or love, in the midst of the impossible.”
Benjamin Timpson uses deconstructed and intricately overlapping butterfly wings as a medium of portraiture, presenting his subjects as woven from the complex materials of memory, nature, metamorphosis, and survival. Timpson sees these portraits as a metaphor for the significance of individual lives impacted by cultural violence, and as a way of examining the horrors of centuries-long exploitation of Native lands and cultures. Yet Timpson considers his work an act of hope and catharsis. The artist remarks: “The butterfly is appropriate because there’s a metamorphosis that takes place with these portraits; my work is about giving voice to the voiceless, and bringing to light the lives of these women.”
Wear Your Love Like Heaven invites us to adorn ourselves in our individuality and be anointed by the spiritual substance of existence: our diversity of bodies, cultures, and earthly experiences. Its message resounds for us in 2022: this moment calls for a radical willingness to love one another, in all our resplendent colors and expressions.