Sumner & Dene presents “Lori Gordon Assemblages, One Person Show”, June 6 - 28, with a reception for the artist, Friday June 6, 5-9pm. New Orleans artist, Lori Gordon was a landscape painter prior to Katrina. While cleaning up from the hurricane she started collecting the pieces of her recycled art. Now she creates mixed-media assemblages of reliquaries which are repositories for relics and other sacred objects. Her broad interpretations in this series range from traditional Christian themes to ones that allude to the "everyday sacred" while others refer to a reverence for the natural environment.
The gallery’s regular hours are weekdays 10-6pm, Saturdays 10-5pm. For more information call 505-842-1400 or go to www.sumnerdene.com
Lori K. Gordon was born in the Northern Plains, and spent her childhood on the prairies of eastern South Dakota. As a teen, she began moving west and then south, living for years in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the high desert of Arizona. Along the way, she picked up a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in religious studies, all the while pursuing her love of art. She has traveled extensively in the United States, painting and drawing her way from the west to east coasts, and from Canada to Mexico. In 1991 she made the Mississippi Gulf Coast her permanent home.
Largely self taught, Gordon works in many media. She is especially fond of collage and assemblage work, and in 2003, one of her pieces was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution for inclusion into their permanent collection. "Labat: A Creole Legacy" is an eight by ten foot art quilt which tells the story, in images and text, of the life of a Bay St. Louis Creole woman who died in 2002 at the age of 104.
In 2003 Gordon began capturing the local landscapes of her beloved Mississippi Gulf Coast in acrylic, and continued that work until Hurricane Katrina upended her life on August 29, 2005. With her home, studio and all of her supplies washed away by the 35 foot storm surge and 150 mile per hour winds which obliterated her community, Gordon returned to work using the only materials which were available to her. Five weeks after the event, Gordon began collecting rubble and transforming it into works of art.
"The Katrina Collection" is a series of mixed media collages and assemblages which incorporates storm debris. The series first garnered national attention when MSNBC featured the work in their series Rising From Ruin. In the fall of 2006, her work was featured on National Public Radio's All Things Considered and by the Associated Press. In the spring of 2008, Gordon was featured on the Mississippi Public Broadcasting program Mississippi Roads. Gordon has exhibited The Katrina Collection in venues around the nation, and pieces from the series can be found in both private and corporate collections in the United States and Europe. Her work may be found in the public collections of the Mississippi Humanities Council, William J Clinton Foundation's Art Across America, the Safeco Corporate Collection, and the Smithsonian Institution. Gordon has been commissioned to create work for the State of Mississippi, the national group Architects Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility, the Red Cross, and Habitat for Humanity asked her to create a piece for President Jimmy Carter. She has received grants from the New York-based organizations Andy Warhol Foundation, Gottlieb Foundation and Pollack Krasner Foundation, as well as the New Orleans Contemporary Art Center and the Mississippi Arts Commission, which awarded her their Artist Fellowship for 2007.
In 2008, Gordon released a new series of work. "Reliquary" reflects her interest in interpretations of the sacred, and draws from the influences of her homes in the Southwest and the Gulf Coast. Gordon has interpreted the reliquary in both a traditional and an avant-garde fashion. For some of these pieces, she started with carved wood Santos. In others, she used plaster statues which were either dug out of debris piles or purchased in New Orleans antique shops. The artist built the reliquaries around these objects, imbuing them with her own personal symbology. Also included in the series are some pieces which allude to what she calls the "everyday sacred." One of these pieces pays homage to the importance of the written word, and others point to the necessity of reverence for the natural environment.
The Yavapai Collection is another of Gordon's continuing series. Named after her Arizona home, the work examines a spirituality which would be familiar to the native inhabitants of the American West. Strongly influenced by the Lakota culture of her native South Dakota as well as the beliefs of indigenous peoples of the Southwest, Gordon has been working on this series for over twenty years. Many of these mixed media pieces incorporate strings of beads which may be removed for wear. While they are an integral part of the design of each piece, the ability to temporarily separate the beads from the work results in an intriguing combination of wall art with wearable art. Gordon says that this echoes the belief of many indigenous peoples that by the wearing of a piece of art, the person so adorned temporarily takes on the power and persona of the work.
Gordon says that her exhibition at Sumner Dene Gallery is like coming home. "I have a very special love for the Southwest and count my years there as integral to my development as an artist. I eagerly look forward to becoming reacquainted with my former home."