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Indepth Arts News:

"Fractured Fables: New Paintings by Kathi Packe"
2006-05-23 until 2006-06-17
First Street Gallery
New York, NY, USA United States of America

First Street Gallery in New York is delighted to present Fractured Fables, an exhibition of new paintings by artist Kathi Packer. In her new series, Packer shifts the viewer's perspective between panoramic, overhead and close focus points of view, recreating her vivid experiences of 'jungle'. Her fascination with the natural world grew from childhood memories where neighborhood 'woods' became an imaginary world inhabited by all manner of exotic flora and fauna. These invented scenarios are also inspired by her many treks through the rainforest and her concern for how we perceive other creatures through cultural filters.

Juxtaposing the sacred and profane, the probable and improbable, Packer explores the paradoxical relationship between humans and the natural world. In Las Mariposas the figure-artist, lying on a bed of fallen leaves, a reoccurring motif in this series, is startled by a flurry of butterflies menacingly swarming about her. A model of innocence and beauty, this insect is in fact, searching for a carrion stew. We are at once confronted with our assumptions about beauty in nature, the cycle of life and our own vulnerability. In Rats, the unwitting introduction of an aggressive foreign invader threatens to wipe out diversity among native species. The conceptual irony here is that we closely share genetic antecedents with this unseemly creature. Fractured Fables is about recognizing the role our constructs play in shaping attitudes towards the animal kingdom and ultimately, our actions.

Blending imagery from photography and direct observation, Packer creates a dream-like fantasy, weaving realism and surrealism into a plausible whole. In Louisiana Dreams the artist is perched in a tree camouflaged as an iguana, while in the background, another 'self-portrait' is morphing into butterfly wings covering a bed. Even the nonpoisonous king snake lurking about assumes the palette of the deadly coral snake. All is not what it appears to be. The swirling vines and arching, moss covered, limbs offer temporary sanctuary from rising waters. Packer's colorful, irreverent paintings explore the disconnect within our understanding of the interrelatedness of plant and animal life. Drawing upon extensive research at major public and university museums of natural history, Packer examines our cultural and historical habits of entitlement whereby we capture, classify, catalog, and possess all living things. Self-portraiture is metaphor for these inevitable human failings. The viewer is a witness to nature's beauty while at the same time is an unwitting participant and victim in its demise.

Kathi Packer's works are in the collections of the New Britain Museum of American Art, The University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Dentistry, Hartford Hospital, Phoenix Corporation and in private collections throughout the United States. Her paintings and drawings can be viewed at www.kathipacker.com, www.firststreetgallery.net, www.artincontext.org.

The First Street Gallery promotes their artists with a Gallery Portfolio at absolutearts.com. View more about this exhibition and other First Street Gallery artistss at: http://galleries.absolutearts.com/firststreetgallery.

Kathi Packer
Las Mariposas , 2005
Size: 60 x 48 (width x height)
Medium: Oil Painting on canvas

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