NiceNasty: Acts of Self-reflection, new Works by Valeria Watson-Doost. October 8, 2011. Asheville, North Carolina

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Affrilachian artist, Valeria Watson-Doost's new works explore childhood memories, issues of war, violence and torture. For her, resolution and redemption are found in taking personal responsibility and in turning to nature.

“I balance the darkness of my subject matter by enveloping it in beauty.”

Art always reflects the persona of the artist but not always in such a literal way as Valeria Watson-Doost's works do. The exhibit titled NiceNasty opens on October 8th in the Pink Dog Creative Gallery, 348 Depot Street, in the Asheville River Arts District.

Watson-Doost's collages reflect her childhood under segregation while concurrently addressing larger issues of war, violence and torture. What makes these works intensely personal while addressing universal concerns is the central role of the artist identified both as the victim and victimizer.

For instance in a 4ft x 8ft piece we see an almost life size nude image of the artist in the now famous Abu Ghraib torture pose know as the Black Puppet man. She is hooded, arms out stretched with electric wires attached to the hands. Her feet stand on the feet of an upside down image of Black Puppet Man. The piece is flanked by two smaller nudes. One echoes a torture image from the Nazi extermination camp Buchenwald while the other shows the artist engulfed by flames her belly cut open, her baby falling out. The second image has historical reference to an event during the Jim Crow era. These demanding images would be difficult to look at were they not beautifully executed. Indeed NiceNasty!

Watson-Doost's images explore childhood memories such as the murder of her father in a Texas Juke Joint. The death certificate on the canvas states he died of a gunshot wound to the side of the head. This childhood trauma gives rise to another large piece titled “Concealed Carry” and deals with America's infatuation with guns and the inevitable associated violence.

Valeria Watson-Doost explains, "Through my art I investigate my role in human violence. Atrocities are not done by a few deranged individuals. We are all implicated. I and you are responsible. I must look into the mirror and accept my responsibility, my contribution."

Not all of the images in the exhibit carry such a heavy burden. However, all speak of the artist's struggle with personal responsibility for injustice in the world. Watson-Doost says “I balance the darkness of my subject matter by enveloping it in beauty.”

Reception and Affrilachian Butoh Hommage “Ghosts of the South”

The opening reception will be held on October 8th starting at 6 PM. The reception occurs in the context of a Performance Art event. Julie Becton Gillum, a well known Asheville Butoh artist, will choreograph a street procession that will end in the gallery space where several short performances will take place in relation to specific pieces of art. Spoken word artist BLove aka DeWayne Barton will perform several poems chosen for their relevance to the exhibit. Kimathi Moore will perform music specifically composed for the event.

The Affrilachian Butoh Hommage performance will be repeated on November 12th at 3PM.

(af.ruh.LA.shun) Affrilachian adj. Relating to an African-American who was born or lives in Appalachia, a mountain system in eastern North America that stretches from Quebec and Maine in the north to Georgia and Alabama in the south. --Affrilachia n., coined by poet Frank X. Walker

bu·toh n. “Ankoku butoh,” means, roughly, the dance of darkness. Butoh is a dance form developed in postwar Japan which rejects Eastern and Western dance conventions, expressing intense emotions through slow, controlled, and sometimes distorted movements. Butoh embraces paradox, nuance and moral complexity and eschews rigid definitions. It insists on rawness inside fragility, on primitivism inside complexity, on emotion and instinct as fine art.

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Valeria Watson-Doost

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