“Erased Saints” Opening
By Frank Thomas
A saint is a person acknowledged as holy or virtuous and typically regarded as being in heaven after death. A saint may be designated as a “patron saint” of a particular cause, profession, or locale, or invoked as a protector against illness or disaster. Here are some examples of historic female patron saints: St. Agatha for breast cancer, St. Anne for mothers and grandmothers,St. Bernadette for orphans, St. Martha for cooks and domestic workers, and St. Mary Magdalene for penitent women.
By Kathleen Cammarata
Sun, Sep 6, 12-4pm
Colonia San Antonio
The paintings and illustrations of women patron saints are fairly uniform. They are clothed in flowing garments, their hair is covered by a veil, and their eyes look heavenward or directly at the viewer. Their poses are passive and their hands are in a prayer position or holding an object like a Bible or a cross. Often they are presented from the waist up; their facial features are soft and they court halos.
“Erased Saints” is a series of 16 pencil drawings by Cammarata that challenge this traditional perspective. The saints are erased both physically in the drawings and metaphorically from history. In these drawings the saints are full-bodied nudes reflecting many of the drawings of female nudes in the art world. They are faceless so as not to represent real persons and to remove the soft features and the heavenward gaze. The poses they strike are not passive but rather engaged with the objects in the picture. Their skin is striped like a jailbird, created by erasing the pencil shading of the body. Their heads sport hairdos or hats topped by halos. Their wrists, ankles, or hips are decorated with bracelets of thorns.
The titles of these works are integral parts of the pieces. For instance, “The Patron Saint of Nothing Earthshattering” relates to the pose she strikes and the claylike cracks on her skin. “The Patron Saint of the Songless” is singing and wearing two lovebirds in the nest of her hair. “The Patron Saint of Moot Points” has a hand over her mouth and a pointed object aimed at her arm. The body, hair, and sexuality of the women are presented in these works as an integral part of who she is. The drawings beg the question, “Who decides what is holy and what is not?”
Kathleen Cammarata lives and works in San Miguel. She has had more than 25 solo exhibitions, the most recent one at the Bellas Artes. She has taught in two museums and a university as well as in her studio. Her work is in both private and corporate collections.