Loren Holland: Black Magic Woman

Project Room 2 Sep 8–Dec 8, 2007

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Loren Holland: Black Magic Woman
Sep 8–Dec 8, 2007





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Black Magic Woman (detail), 2007

Loren Holland’s paintings lampoon assumptions about African American women. Her subjects are purposefully stylized to call attention to the way their real-life counterparts have been portrayed in the popular media as mysterious, exotic, sexual, even animalistic beings. Its title inspired by the Santana song of the same name, Black Magic Woman depicted three contemporary Santeria priestesses practicing in a spooky landscape filled with creeping mist. As with traditional representations of saints, each was surrounded by attributes. One, situated in a graveyard, conjured zombies with a nail-punctured human heart, poison from a blowfish, and the miraculous little blue pills that aid in raising the dead. Another, adopting the posture of someone who constantly works on a car in the street, turned her junker into a flourishing witch’s garden. The last stood at her vanity, casting spells and hoping to capture the one she loves with the help of a voodoo doll, perfume, and face powder–a combination of Chanel and Hershey’s Cocoa. In all three cases, Holland fashioned images of creative, resourceful women whose magic is a metaphor for using everyday materials to make the proverbial silk purse from a sow’s ear. Her lush and detailed figurative paintings are simultaneously literal and allegorical; they combine the eerie quality of nineteenth-century ghost stories with the visual language of a hip-hop music video. Black Magic Woman also alluded to a theatrical stage set, calling further attention to the artificial construction of the stereotypes it portrayed.