While wandering through my favorite quirky odds and ends shop a couple years ago, I glanced at a shelf and had to do a double-take. At first, I thought I'd glimpsed an image of classic art--a renaissance painting whose title dangled on the edges of my memory. It was an image of a lone woman in an outdoor scene, holding a silver platter, a fire dancing on its surface. A goldfinch looks on from a nearby branch. I looked again. This wasn't just any woman--this was the Bride of Frankenstein! At that moment, I fell entirely in love with Isabel Samaras's work and have been crazy about it ever since.
|This is what I'd seen. |
Song of the Goldfinch, by Isabel Samaras
Warning: "Adult" images after the break. You've been warned. So no bitching if you see boobies, 'kay? We're all big kids here.
Isabel Samaras is a name that every geek gurrl should know in order to be eligible for her geeky gurrl membership card. Isabel lives and works in San Fancisco, creating unique pieces that commonly meld the unlikely subjects of classic art and popular geek culture.
|Secrets of the Batcave|
Isabel started by creating her wonderful, kinky worlds on lunch boxes she discovered in Spanish Harlem in New York City. After moving to San Fancisco, a friend suggested she begin creating work on (appropriately enough) TV trays, launching a series of pieces that you probably wouldn't find sitting in the corner waiting to be used at Grandma's house (or maybe you would--I guess it depends on the coolness of your grandma!).
|Perpetua (The Bride)|
|Vina (The Longing)|
This is where Samaras is at her best, in my opinion--when she subverts the expectations of an image, taking something we expect to be classic art and throws in subtle nods to horror and popular culture and more, implying depth to stories people are usually happier to ignore as "trite." These examinations of the characters and their stories create a real relevance that can cause her audience to re-think their initial dismissal of some of the stories that make up the mythologies of the twentieth century, putting them in conversation with history and elevating them in the process.
|The Bluebird of Happiness|
|Mocking Box: The Rap Wars|
Samaras's most recent work shows an emphasis on this conversation between what would be considered "classic" art and unexpected elements of popular culture. Her most recent show, "Heavy Gretel," displays this shift in interest from pop culture to the world of fairy tales that she's been making over the past year or so in art that depicts not only the Hansel and Gretel myth, but everything from Red Riding Hood to a naughty depiction of "The Tyger" by William Blake. Even the fairy tale creatures themselves have been "remixed." Check out her great article in the most recent issue of Hi-Fructose, at pretty much every conceivable newsstand and Barnes & Noble that carries anything more than People and TV Guide for more about Isabel and her art, or find her all over the internet:
Isabel on the Interwebs
Isabel's Blog, "i feel it too: Notes from the studio"
And if you love what you see, you absolutely MUST pick up her book, On Tender Hooks. Or, if you're lucky enough to be in the San Francisco area, do what I can't and look up her work and experience it personally. Art is ALWAYS better in person, and I will be jealous of you forever if you get to experience her work in person in all its geeky glory!