Gallery Opening: Christie Blizard – When I Was 16, I Saw the White Buffalo

Christie Blizard’s new solo show, When I Was 16, I Saw the White Buffalo, is open now at Women and Their Work, a gallery in Austin, TX that commands respect for its unwavering commitment to contemporary art made by women.  Blizard’s installation is starkly divided into two opposing, yet unified sections that hint at Native American and shamanistic as well as Celtic motifs.  Light can be shed on these themes by considering Blizard’s residence in West Texas and her interest in the Celtic violin.

Half of the installation recreates Blizard’s exact living space down to the light switches, electrical outlets and fireplace, of which copies are printed and pasted onto the walls.  The space features a makeshift bed of a mattress and blankets, a projector displaying images from a Mac PowerBook, a Theremin, a violin, a sewing machine, the DJ Hero game controller, shoes, the list goes on.  Important to note is the inclusion of Blizard’s artwork, since her living space serves as her studio. Some pieces, such as a poster of a billboard containing the phrase providing the title for the show appear complete, while others, such as collages of various colored paint swatch strips, seem in progress.  In this way, the artist’s living room becomes the space for exhibiting her work, blurring the line between exhibiting herself and exhibiting her art in a gallery.

Of course, the style of the installation calls to mind ideas of voyeurism, which immediately leads to the realization of the interesting dearth of anything too terribly sexualized or even personal.  No undergarments, no personal hygiene items, no photographs of herself, friends, or family.  Perhaps Blizard is a phenomenally clean resident, but if one were to take my living space on any given day they would almost certainly find at least a few pieces of underwear, if not more incriminating paraphernalia.  The space does feel inhabited, despite the sterile nature of the gallery’s typical white walls, but beyond some rudimentary observations about the artist’s habits and hobbies, no more provocative assumptions can be drawn.  Questions a viewer might have about the truly personal aspects of Blizard’s life are left unanswered.

If the first half of the installation represents the artist’s life and her consciousness, the second part must be her subconscious mind.  The back part of the gallery is a dark, empty room with only glow in the dark tape adorning the floors and the walls, reminiscent of tribal, shamanistic designs.  The pattern along the walls seems to point toward a screen at the far end of the room, on which Celtic-like symbols flow haphazardly in a stream, interlaid atop of each other.

Whether intentional or not, the stark, dichotomous juxtaposition of these two rooms recalls the White Lodge/Black Lodge mysticism of 90s TV series Twin Peaks, though not as focused on good and evil. The classic light and dark motif feels familiar, yet fresh in Blizard’s hands.  Her conscious, artistic mind overflows with vibrant color, and her subconscious, dream mind glows with neon light.  Both of her worlds are thought provoking and visually appealing.  The show runs through April 26th.

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About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.
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