Jessica Silverman is pleased to present “Conversational Spirits,” a two-part summer group show, featuring work that explores “animism,” the belief that animals, plants, places and objects are imbued with spirits. These entities have strong characters. They are enlivened by social awareness and a yearning to communicate. Some command power; others are driven by a mission.
Animism, as a traditional belief system, is a global phenomenon, common to indigenous peoples around the world. It survives in vestigial ways in large scale religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Judeo-Christian ritual. Often associated with the worship of nature, animism is a theme broadly relevant to this moment in which equal rights, environmentalism and the neuroscience of our mammalian brains are of concern to many.
Animism is a relevant analogy for the agency, intensity and energy embodied by great art. When the trees are whispering, when abstraction breathes, when a painted portrait questions your sense of self, spirits are not far away.