From the moment I turned a corner in Miami, on a one-day trip, and spotted what I’d gone in search of – Faith47’s Multum in Parvo, a woman with her head bowed and arms cupped together in service/suffering – I was captivated. The piece was for a series of artworks done specifically by women artists for Wynwood Walls. Being from South Africa means I’d seen Faith’s (not her real name) work in Cape Town, where she’s from, before. But there was something about seeing this piece here on a wall in the US that struck me.
I don’t know if it was the sheer size – seeing the emotion of the woman’s body language loom so large – but it took my breathe away. As have many of her other pieces. Witness the swans in flight of The Psychic Power of Animals on Broome Street in Soho or the birds in migration of Estamos Todos Los Que Cabemos in Harlem, which reminds us that nature ignores the lines we humans draw on a map. And every time I see another work of hers go up in other parts of the world, I make a mental note to visit them should I venture to those spots any time soon.
I’m thrilled, then, to have been able to see Faith bring her works to the walls of the Jonathan Levine Gallery in Chelsea. It’s her first solo US show, but a continuation of one she started in London last year. Aqua Regalia 2 seeks to cast a new light on items that seem to be of mundane value. So in taking cardboard signs that would’ve been held by those in need and lottery scratch-cards that would’ve been held by the hopeful, and putting putting them under the gaze of a divine goddess of sort, she transforms the ordinary into so much more. Her animal and feminine figures are here in the exhibition too – I’ve never quite looked at hands before, the way Faith gets me to look at them.
Though her works here may be confined to a smaller canvass this way, they’re no less as breath-taking.
Aqua Regalia 2 is on until December 19 at the Jonathan Levine Gallery. For more on Faith47, visit her site.