William James, the 19th-century pioneer in philosophy and American head-shrinkery, was more than just a little interested in what lies waiting for us in the great beyond. In one of his tomes about the psychology of religious experience and mysticism, he wrote that “in order to dispute the law that all crows are black, it is enough to find one white crow.”
James was waxing on the subject at a time when parlor séances were all the rage, back when some people believed in the existence of a transition zone between life and the spiritual dimension — a way station for souls to adjust to the shock of death. Not unlike James, many faithful thought it wouldn’t be long before a white crow would make its presence felt.
Crossing over to the dead zone is the subject of “The Afterlife,” a new group show at ArtCenter/South Florida (800 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) that explores the hereafter in quirky and unexpected ways.
The exhibit features works by Alex Heria, Franklin Sinanan, and Byron Keith Byrd, each employing iconic religious symbols to create a cultural mashup designed to provoke thought and channel the powers of the spirit world. You won’t find any manifestations of a white crow here, but don’t miss Byrd’s Religious Trap, a Christian cross confected from hundreds of old-fangled (and mostly useless) spring-loaded mousetraps, reminding us that despite tangible evidence, many people still believe in everlasting life.
June 27-July 22, 2012