Cameron: Song of the Witch Woman @ MoCA
Just in time for Halloween, MOCA has opened a new show at its Pacific Design Center annex entitled "Cameron: Song of the Witch Woman". The show is an exploration of the work of local occultist, poet, and visual artist Cameron. Displaying drawings, paintings, and ritual artifacts, the show chronicles the artists life from mid-west rebel to ritual goddess and finally avant-garde recluse. A truly strong and independent woman before such things were acceptable, Cameron lived her life the way she saw fit, a fact that can clearly be seen in her artwork and the short underground films in which she starred. Starting in the nineteen-forties Cameron depicted the spirits, angels, and supernatural beings she encountered in ritual as a way of releasing them from her soul into the world. Often she would burn her work as a way of releasing these spirits, but the pieces that survive show an elaborate and haunting vision of another world just beyond the veil of everyday consciousness. Her early work, done mostly in ink and color wash, depict black eyed beings holding cosmic eggs or faces that almost appear to be drawn double exposures, meant to convey the multi-dimentionality of the spirit world. Owing a debt to surrealism as well as abstract expressionism most are covered in branching forms or amorphous blobs of color that speak to halos or movements of energy. Alongside these are illustrations the artist did for a book of poetry written by her husband shortly before his mysterious death in the later forties.
On display in the gallery is the artists most infamous work entitled "Peyote Vision" which was drawn based on the artists experience with the sacred cactai. It depicts a woman with a snakes forked tongue being taken from behind sexually by a man/spirit made of veins and light. When the work was originally shown at the Ferus Gallery in 1957, the Vice squad showed up and arrested the gallery owner for obscenity, a charge for which he was later found guilty. The artist's later work is much more abstract, seeming to be made of waves of vibration or streaks of light existing in multiple planes of existence at once. Overall Cameron's work is that of a true original and visionary, a feminist before her time, and a trailblazer of consciousness. A perfect spell for Halloween.