A Journal of Art Criticism

Published by the South Bay Area Women's Caucus for Art
Volume 5, Number 2, 1998

Survivor Chimney, fired brick, by Andree Thompson, 5'4"x18"x18", 1991. Photograph by Sibila Savage.

The Importance of Lightness

Robin L. Giustina . Risë Krag . Trudy Myrrh Reagan
Barbara Sandrisser . Susan Leibovitz Steinman
Andree Thompson . Helen Wood . Nanette Wylde . Alayne Yellum


From the Editor:

Why is it important to consider lightness now? Currently there is a breeziness, possibly a reaction to the pressure for art and artists to confront issues. Breathing the air of the art world right now brings on dizziness. Art is light, not getting enough oxygen. It is rising like a helium balloon.

I am thinking of recent shows at the Center for Art, Yerba Buena Gardens, in which one can enter a child's world of playing and dressing up: large stuffed bears, castle-shaped objects that look like part of a toy set, coloring books, a giant dress.

This is a trend I don't quite understand, but have some sympathy for. In reviewing the articles for this issue, however, I do understand that "lightness" is a constant for artists, a concept with a sliding meaning.

Inspiration for an artist can come from two places: hopes which shimmer in a realm somewhere above our heads, and feelings which lie deep within. What this creates is an ongoing art world dynamic with a push-pull tension between dreams and drives. Each aspect has its own concept of lightness.

For some artists, it seems important to be able to achieve distance and clarity, or to reach a new state of being, such as vulnerability. They seek enlightenment, a form of transcendence; they aspire to breathe a different air.

For others, lightness is found as a release from tension, often comic release, to be achieved by working through a difficulty. These artists come to it by burrowing through the pain of family trauma, or by exploring codes which elicit puzzling responses from themselves and others. Their lightness is the other side of an ordeal.

No matter what form of lightness you prefer, it's here for you. It's PINK for spring! Butterflies are fluttering, light is streaming, and the air is fresh.

Karen Haas


The Importance of Lightness

(detail) gratefully acknowledges support from the Arts Council of Santa Clara County PARTNERS Pooled Funds including support from the City of San José.

Editor: Karen Haas
Associate Editor: Christine Laffer
Art Director: AlayneYellum
Promotions: Sarah Ratchye
Web Site: Saelon Renkes

The South Bay Area Women's Caucus for Art is an organization of 200 arts professionals. Our purpose is to educate the public about the contribution of women to the arts and to ensure inclusion of women in the history of art, while respecting differences in age, religion and cultural heritage. Women and men interested in membership please call 408-266-0650. Please send letters to Editor, 181 South 21st Street, San Jose, CA 95116.

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