A collection of works by Maria Battista with Beth and Jonathan Evans
Play and resistance are not usually considered similar phenomena, and yet the two occur in tandem as psychological tools of reality-making at every stage of human development. Children perform resistance through play, sometimes reproducing exclusionary situations in which they find themselves in order to act out strategies of resistance to these limitations. Artists from theater to the visual arts and beyond have always toyed with what some have called "culture jamming" in the pursuit of fresh perspectives and the attempt to alter and enliven habitual behavior. We see much of this even outside of the professional arts community, in everyday people who engage in cos-play, body tatooing, enhanced cosmetic adornment and experimentation with androgynous identities, among other tactics. And humor, of course, is a vital and ubiquitous tool of resistance. When we play and create, we take on archetypal identities beyond ourselves which help us merge with a collective while at the same time exploring our uniqueness. We are free to be a symbolizing individual within the web of being, always making ourselves anew in resistance to the externally imposed monotony and uniformity that can pervade popular culture.
In the batik work of Beth and Jonathan Evans, the concept of "resist" is, literally, the technique of using wax resists in a multi-stage dye process. It also encompasses Terry Tempest Williams' well-known assertion that "Beauty is not optional. It is a strategy for survival." In the splendor of the Huajatolla Valley, Jonathan and Beth prolifically create images of the world with the vibrancy that the medium of batik can superbly convey.
Maria Battista's sculptural work is devoted to the body as playground, battlefield, and temple of the psycho-spiritual life. Her natural orientation is toward the creation of images of figures engaged in contemplation and wonderment. For "Playful Resistance," she has taken a whimsical turn, finding an interface between humor and myth in her nevertheless classical trajectory.