Naomi Fisher's "Myakka" Both Haunting and Poetic at Fredric Snitzer Gallery

Naomi Fisher's long anticipated exhibit at the Fredric Snitzer Gallery represents the mytho-poetic journey of a group of women into the Florida wilderness. At times the exhibit is haunting with nature reminiscent of the ancient mystery cults where priestesses conducted Arcadian rituals for the rebirth of nature from generation to generation.

Driven by a hypnotic drum score, the women in Fisher's 16-minute video, MYAKKA, filmed over a two-week period at the Florida State Park by the same name, roam the wetland and prairies engaging each other and local wildlife in a loosely-based narrative. At times you see the women, dressed in torn tee-shirts, diaphanous thrift-store garb, and with their faces fiercely painted, gather under dense tangles of trees.

While the characters interact with each other, pausing at intervals and  limberly weaving their limbs through the tree branches, as if witchy seers broken on a medieval Catherine's Wheel, The sun dapples through the lush canopy of leaves above cloaking them in eerie amber light. As the wind lifts the rainbow-colored tunic of one of the performers, a sliver of sunlight refracts the moment beautifully.

The crackling synth by the group SKINT and the women stopping to collect strands of Spanish moss from the copse of trees circling them, to create tendril-like veils to cowl their faces, adds to the sense of mystery evoked by the film.

In the gallery, Fisher is exhibiting an accompanying suite of paintings and drawings viewers will recognize as portraits inspired by the action on the video projected on a gallery wall.

Naomi Fisher Mary, Miyakka, She Came From Fire 2011
Courtesy Fredric Snitzer Gallery

Works such as Mary, Myakka, She Came From Fire, a watercolor, Charcoal, acrylic on linen piece, depicting a close up of one of the women, face streaked with war paint, sitting before a blazing fire is a fine example.

Another depicts a fellow initiate standing in a thicket of soaring grass with a dead snake she offers to her friends on a twig.

As the night falls the women retire to a woodland clearing and form a circle around a roaring fire. They take turns burning talismanic drawings. Then a hand appears from off camera anointing the upturned face of a woman with red paint from her fingers.

Although these works may strike some as a departure from Fisher's past paintings, the red faced woman, a staple of Fisher's earlier works,  still appears here on video and in mixed media paintings.

There is something distinctly tribal and visceral about Fisher's unforgettable video that evokes the cycle of regeneration and rebirth and nature's power to transport one to the primordial. Nature has always figured prominently in her work, says Fisher who adds that this show was two years in the making.

Fisher's collaborators on the "Myakka" video were Mary Christmas, Jessie Gold, Elizabeth Hart, Erin Krause and Stella Rey. "I try to go camping by myself at least once a year in the Everglades.  I like to do watercolors of nature on these trips."

As far as some of the outdoor sanctuaries that inspire her she says that the Everglades National Park, Big Cypress Preserve, Shark Valley, Oleta State Park, Myakka State Park, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, The Kampong, and Vizcaya are favorites.

"We are so lucky in South Florida to have such incredible and unique wetlands, prairies, and beaches. Whenever I travel for my exhibitions I try to stay for a few extra days to check out regional art scenes and nature.  For example when I had a solo show in Tokyo two years ago I traveled to the southern Island of Japan to explore their natural volcanic hot springs, Fisher says.

Don't miss Fisher's MYAKKA; it's both dreamy and epic.

The Exhibit runs through May 23 at the Fredric Snitzer Gallery (2247 NW First Place, Miami).  For more information call 305-448-8976. or visit www.snitzer.com.

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