Through a series of interconnected performances, rituals, objects and installations, multidisciplinary artist Angela Ellsworth delineates new spaces and ways of existing that are alive to the magic of our lived experiences and shared histories. In Sister Wives, a series of multidisciplinary and performative projects, Ellsworth channeled her female Mormon pioneer ancestors. Ellsworth’s Seer Bonnets, an offshoot of this work, comprised draping, pearline pioneer bonnets, delineated in thousands of bristling corsage pins. Adding to her orbit of startling, spiritually resonant objects, Ellsworth’s Pantelones series employ meticulous arrangements of pearl-tipped pins of various hues to stake out the embodied form and draw on a history of occult figures. In these pincushion bloomers female intimacy becomes power and a private language is manifested to describe the enduring attraction of the unknown.
“I have always been interested in mysticism, divining powers, and tools of translation, particularly mysticism and psychic potential in relation to women. This relates to the bonnets and the sister-wife performances: The body as a tool for accessing something outside perception. In early Mormon practices, groups of women spoke in tongues together, and one woman was the scribe.”
Ellsworth’s recent bonnet and pantaloon pair, Chiaroveggente: As Above, So Below (33.487549, -112.073994), and Pantaloncini: As Above, So Below (33.487549, -112.073994) refer to a confluence of information, from the personal to the geographical to the clairvoyant. The artist remarks: “The phrase “as above, so below” dates back to Hermeticism…It has become a somewhat common expression stating that whatever happens on earth is aligned with the astral or spiritual realm. For instance, what occurs in the stars can affect our daily lives on earth. This is where the practice of magic and mysticism can be ways of understanding the world we live in.
I am thinking about the ancient Emerald Tablet (attributed to Hermes Trismegistus) in relation to the old-but-not-so-ancient text of the Golden Plates connected to [founder of Mormonism] Joseph Smith. Neither the tablet nor the plates have ever been found (or seen) since their translations.”
As though in a process of pinning down the earthly place for these spiritual conveyances, Ellsworth’s titles include the GPS coordinates of the photograph from which she devised the patterns and color schema for each piece: “The camera faced down to the earth where urban planners and utility companies had spray painted colorful and cryptic markings on the asphalt and sidewalk where interpretations are available to only a few.”