MANHATTAN'S NUMBER ONE COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
Vol. 8 • No.27 -- November 11, 1977
ART-Y-FACTS By HARVEY SCHOENFELD
Throughout the shadowy eons of human existence, there have always been men and women committed to the communication of the inexplicable. They have chosen to devote themselves to literature, philosophy, science, music, and art. It is not difficult, however, to comprehend why people from diversiﬁed cultures, ideologies, and backgrounds respond to the medium of art, in all its variances, to represent the fantasy world we all share.
Fantasy is the surreal. It may be grotesque and horrible, or it may be beautiful and sublime; it may possess the quality of rigidity and yet may encompass fragility. It has depth and meaning for all, from children's fairytales to adult eroticism.
Fantasy is imagery and imagery is – art.
Mystique, fairytale, fantasy are but a few terms that can enable the viewer to penetrate the inner sense of the Soft Sculpture Reliefs created by Elsbeth Ramos, which are on view at the Vorpal Gallery (465 West B'way). Her 3-dimensional art incorporates the techniques of stitchery, painting, applique. The resulting works provide the audience with an illusionary perspective of reality, inviting the viewer to sojourn with the artist through her land of myths.
33 sculpture reliefs in the exhibit together create a total environment through which the viewer may wander. They are created with humor, charm, and pathos. Reminiscent of Alice's adventuring in her wonderland. Ms. Ramos sweeps us along and introduces us to her host of characters. Benign beasts, sea nymphs. unicorns, ice cream cones and flowers are just a few of the archetypal symbols and images she uses to bring us closer to our own inner realities. The density of the metaphors and symbols challenges the viewer to discover their meaning for himself. And explore his own psyche.
The fabrics used range from simple cotton to plush velour, and the wonderful spectrum of colors enhances the sensuality of the fabric. Ms. Ramos employs the process of trapunto to aid in her craft. This procedure has much to do with the creation and form of the ﬁgures within the sculptures. The physical stuffing of the horses, nymphs and unicorns is done through the underside of the relief. The actual sculptured structure framed during this trapunto process results in surface convolutions which create shadows; these, in turn, enliven the ﬁgures and breathe life into the fairytale world. The result is a microcosm of life, representing metamorphoses of man into beast, and beast into beauty.
The central soft sculpture of this exhibit is an 8’ x 10' work called "Forgotten Road." This is the road into the memories of the subconscious. The worldly city is left behind. and the not-often-traveled road becomes the more immediate reality. Man and woman, unicorn and horned nymph, relax on their journey along the mossy road, sharing the delights of a rainbow ice cream cone.
In a recent interview at the Vorpal Gallery, the artist related the difficulties of working in a new medium. “There are no guidelines, no links to the past, as there is in painterly art. All of my works answer a basic inner need to express what is happening around me. both politically and sociologically. My benign beasties are a way of expressing these problems through recognizable images."
One can only encourage Elsbeth Ramos to continue her avant-garde work. In an age of terrorism and unrest, her sensitivity is a beacon toward the future.