Karon Davis: Pain Management reviewed in Art & Cake

Karon Davis’ “Pain Management” at Wilding Cran

Gabriel and Cry Baby, Karon Davis, Pain Management at Wilding Cran. Photo Courtesy Wilding Cran

Gabriel and Cry Baby, Karon Davis, Pain Management at Wilding Cran. Photo Courtesy Wilding Cran

by Genie Davis

There’s nothing painful about Karon Davis’ Pain Management, a beautiful solo exhibition that creates a world filled with weary-angel caregivers, supplicating patients, and a way to move beyond pain, and reach an inner sense of peace.

Physical and emotional pain is the theme in the artist’s recreation of a world inhabited by seven sculptures, shaped from plaster casts and shredded medical bills. The somewhat biographical works include three nurse figures attired in patterned scrubs, the exhausted angel, “Morphine”; “Ifosfamide” a frightening scarecrow; and “Nicotine,” a stoic, smoking nurse. These figures have the substantial quality of fully formed sculpture, made with paint, plaster, cloth, synthetic hair, and objects grounded in reality such as a coffee cup and shredded bills. The pieces include color in their depictions, the color of the caregivers’ skin, their attire, their hair.

Four other pieces depict children, or as Davis calls them, “Children of the Moon.” Representing a preservation of the spirit, health, and memories, and the fragility and perhaps fleeting nature of these ideals, they are ghostly and enigmatic, emblems of peace, purity, and an afterlife free of pain. As such, they are devoid of color, white and drifting, mute butterflies.

The artist is interested in the idea of mummification, and as such, these sculptures take on that role, of a being bound or contained, pinned; prepared perhaps for burial or reincarnation. Crafted of plaster, wire, plastic pipe, paper, and glass eyes, their shapes are incomplete, delicate, and seem to float. The openings in these casts present the idea that the spirits these children contain have already broken free of the bodies that bind them, or that bind older incarnations of the self. Each child has a name: “Oya” holds a scarab beetle, “Mary” catches the moon, “Mawu” holds a basket.

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