Mary Anna Pomonis: Into Her (Catalog Essay, Nan Rae Gallery, Woodbury University)
peg my vulva
my star‐sketched horn of the Dipper
moor my slender boat of heaven
my new moon crescent beauty
So goes the Sumerian temple poem exalting Inanna, Mesopotamian goddess of war and sex. This ancient work was composed by Enheduanna, a woman, whose name has been recorded as the first known composer of poetry in any written language.(1) The symbol of Inanna is an 8-point star, which recurs in ancient Sumerian bas-reliefs and Byzantine coins and flags.(2) In the exhibition titled Into Her, Mary Anna Pomonis has created her own powerful series of visual poetry to honor Inanna. Each two-dimensional painting exquisitely renders spaces both three-dimensional and temporal and is made up of repeated cryptic formal rhythms that engage mathematical codes and channel forces beyond human comprehension.
In a world that is increasingly more uncertain, artists have a palpable need to produce art that is otherworldly. In a conjuring act, Pomonis summons her own power as a woman and, further, as an artist. Via the masochistic endeavor of measuring and graphing, taping and masking, spraying and calibrating, supernatural concepts augmented by her rigorous production include ideas that exist beyond the laws of this earth. While women have generated art as a spiritual endeavor for eons, in more recent art history, this tradition has been observed in the work of Hilma af Klint, who produced geometric paintings that are some of the earliest metaphysical manifestations of 20th-century abstract art. Emma Kunz divined Modernist mandala forms using a pendulum to create large drawings as part of her practice as a healer, and Agnes Martin made obsessively organized contemporary art grids that concretized her statement “everything, everything is about feeling.”(3)
Into Her illustrates Pomonis’ airbrush dexterity as a sensitive and scholarly practice, simultaneously honoring and distancing herself from the process seen in Los Angeles’ ubiquitous car culture. Airbrush, often relegated to the masculine realm of gadget-fetish, has been stripped of its gendered identity. Much like motors or guns, the moving parts of the “male” apparatus are gear-laden, requiring compulsive cleaning, and are of a form quite the opposite of intuition or feeling. Pomonis has practiced the craft to such a degree that she can deftly wield the contraption to produce both crisp lines and dreamy fades. The sumptuous backgrounds of her paintings have an ethereal quality like ‘70s blended silkscreen posters. And the geometry of her polyhedra is dramatically more complex than the cubes or spheres of quotidian life.
Plutarch attributed the saying “God geometrizes continually” to Plato,(4) and sacred geometry can be found in rock circles at Stonehenge, pyramids, Mayan temples, cathedrals of the Baroque, and the Parthenon. Even Le Corbusier used spiritual axioms to delineate his architecture.(5) Throughout her artistic career, Pomonis has synthesized systems derived from art, architecture, and naturally occurring geometric patterns such as crystals, beehives, stars, and diamonds. When asked about her practice, she reifies her connection to the divine, stating, “I allowed the 8-pointed temple Rosette form to guide me on my drawn investigation, and through this process of repeating and building, a spiritual energy is created and a certain power is harnessed. It is via this repetition that the space between the self and the universe is eliminated. I felt I was delving into an elemental feminist symbol, weaving my own aesthetic into a form that was beyond the particularity of myself, one that submerged the self into the symbolic and universal.”
This is an exercise in becoming, of meditation and deference to a mysticism remote, where the vibrational energy of 8-pointed crystal forms, endowed the narrative plane of Inanna’s descent, transmutes ritual math. Pomonis is accessing, unlocking, and awakening through a ritualistic process the imprint of a transcendent movement, rendered and animated of a phenomenal and historical equation that is in becoming realized through the work. It is this process through the spatiotemporal strata of a mythic and horological narrative experience that reveals Pomonis emerging from her dive into the depths, having retrieved a poetic sublime which vibrates as lines and matrices in airbrushed chartings of a way continually forward. The works of Into Her are new relics, recording her dimensional pilgrimage guided by the principles of a sacred geometry.
-- Annie Wharton
1. Meador, Betty De Shong, translator. “Sappho and Enheduanna”. By Enheduanna. Presented by Meador, Betty De Shong. Ancient Greece/Modern Psyche: Petros M. Nomikos Foundation, Santorini, Greece, 2009.
2. Black, Jeremy A., Anthony Green, and Tessa Rickards. Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary. University of Texas, 1992.
3. Agnes Martin, quoted in Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield, Agnes Martin Chicago: School of the Art Institute of Chicago Video Data Bank, 1976). VHS. Also see John Gruen, “Agnes Martin: ‘Everything, Everything is about Feeling… Feeling and Recognition,’ “ ARTnews 75, no. 7 (September 1976): 91.
4. Plutarch, “Convivialium disputationum,” liber 8,2.
5. Pennick, Nigel. Sacred Geometry: Symbolism and Purpose in Religious Structures. Harper & Row. (Library of Spiritual Wisdom), 1982.
Into Her, a solo show of paintings by Mary Anna Pomonis runs October 14–November 10, 2018
Nan Rae Gallery, Woodbury University, 7500 N. Glenoaks Blvd Burbank, CA 90504
Opening reception: Sunday, October 14, 2018 (4-7PM with performances at 4 and 6:30)
Gallery hours: Wednesday 12-7PM, Thursday through Saturday 12-5PM