An exhibition that centers magic and ritual, “Season of the Witch” contends with modern day mysticism through paintings and sculptures that pulse with primal electricity. The show, curated by Sarah Potter, runs from July 22nd through September 4th at the Seligmann Center in Sugarloaf, NY, and is infused with the uncanny at every angle. Featuring work by Evie Falci, Lala Abaddon, Heather Gabel, Astral Eyes, Hilary White, Lucien Shapiro, Hunter Stabler and Robert Ryan, “Season of the Witch” is at turns hypnotic, hallucinatory, and subtly captivating.
We dug into Potter’s curatorial — and magical — practice in anticipation of the opening this Friday. Here’s what the “Good Witch of the Art World” had to say about crafting “Season of the Witch.”
Is curation a ritual unto itself for you?
I do believe that curation is a ritual. The entire act of an art exhibition is a modern day ritual. The art is created, it is hung in a special place, and people are brought together in ceremony to view and celebrate the work. We have been doing this for centuries…using art to tell stories, to react to modern day events, to express ourselves. Part of why I curate exhibitions is to explore my inner psyche and answer my own existential questions. I want to use art to create a community for like minded artists and collectors. This work has completely transformed my life and brought so many wonderful people into it.
What kind of magic happens when you put together a show like this that taps into the psychic, sensual, visual, and intellectual aspects of the human experience?
This exhibition is steeped in magic. The color palette is vibrant and enticing while the imagery is seductive. (This is especially apparent in the gaze of Lala Abaddon’s woven portraits. The ladies are looking directly at the viewer and pulling them in.) The lusciously tactile nature of Evie Falci’s rhinestone compositions beg to be touched. Astral Eyes’ hypnotic collages induce a trance-like state. The symbolism many of the artists are using in their work is very potent and I think people respond to that on a subconscious level.
I love seeing viewers’ reactions to the work. Their eyes light up! Everyone comments on the color present through out the exhibition. It is a true rainbow of hues. Color is so powerful…it can completely shift our mood. I think about color magick as part of my curation process.
What was your process like creating this show? How do you incorporate your own practice into curating?
Much like the artists I work with, I also use my intuition in my work. I curate intuitively while seeking balance in color, form, texture, and scale in an exhibition. I like LOUD art. I like aggressive art. I love art that celebrates femininity in a brash way. But when all of the art is screaming, it is important as a curator to achieve balance so that each piece can be heard. Tapping into my intuition to make sure each piece is part of the conversation is key.
I began thinking about the “Season of the Witch” after our Presidential election. Our country elected an egomaniac who is grabbing women by the pussy!! That is who we want leading our country??!! NO!! It was too much. I felt forgotten. I felt like being a woman was still a setback. I felt like our country was celebrating sexual harassers, rapists, and disgusting “locker room” nonsense. I was in a DARK PLACE. I talked to a lot of friends during this time who also felt forgotten and alone as we looked at the possibility of many of our rights being taken away, especially when it comes to our health. I realized a lot of us were feeling alone and forgotten.
At the same time, I was continuing my research on the rise of “New Age” thinking which coincides throughout history with big booms in technology as well as times of great strife. This is when people seek magick with greater desire. Throughout history, witchcraft has often appealed to the “others” of society. A form of power that comes from within and a celebration and reverence for nature and working with the natural cycles. Now more than ever, witches, the others of society, are needed! We must celebrate women, and the nurturing, healing sides of ourselves. When all of the “others” come together, we are larger, louder, and more powerful than what we are against.
I created “Season of the Witch” as a siren call to bring us all together. Let’s celebrate the Divine Feminine, let’s be surrounded by color, let’s collectively heal through art. Let’s think, and feel, and talk about important issues together. The art world is notoriously misogynistic and I want to change that. I want to uplift women and those who are feeling unheard and silenced.
How does this show build upon your previous Season of the Witch show at Spring Break earlier this year?
My experience at SPRING/BREAK Art Show was wonderful! It coincided with the call for witches to hex Trump with a binding spell to keep him from doing further harm. Because this was so popular in the news cycle, many visitors sought me out to discuss this. I had so many wonderful conversations with people who were genuinely curious about this. I kinda came flying out of the “Broom Closet” with this exhibition. Before this, I kept my spiritual side quiet and did not talk about it as publicly out of fear for being demonized. I was pleasantly surprised by how warm and inquisitive visitors to the fair were. Many people commented how the room felt and how the color uplifted their moods, it was excellent.
This exhibition at The Seligmann Center is an expansion on that show. With more space and more time, I was able to add a few other artists to the conversation. Mixed with the rich history and magical aura of the grounds here, this exhibition has taken on a new life in this context. Seligmann was a Surrealist painter, as well as magick scholar and practitioner. The energy is palpable here. Have you seen images of his “Soiree Seligmann” which he held in his Manhattan apartment??!! Totally amazing and outrageous! He was a great connector in life and beyond. His legacy brings so many of us together and I have met an incredible magick community because of him.
Can you hint at some of the additional programming that will be part of the Seligmann Center exhibition?
As far as programming, I am planning a movie night to screen clips of witches in movies and pop culture as well as a panel discussion on the archetype of the witch. There is also a lecture by Robert M. Place on “The Origin of the Mystical Tarot and How It Can Help Us to Attain Wisdom.” Sugar Loaf is a sweet town (there are TWO metaphysical shops!) and only an hour from NYC. It is an excellent little getaway from the city!