Stella Kapezanou and Kate Turner
Corn Maidens: Crop Circles, Fire and a Conflagration of Birds

Exhibition Reception: Friday, March 29, 2024

The featured artists—Stella Kapezanou (Fulbright Fellow in Greece) and Kate Turner (Roswell Artist-in-Residence and named as one of “12 New Mexico Artists to Know Now” by Southwest Contemporary)—come together at Opening Gallery around shared themes of female power, earth rituals, and the beauty and dangers that inhere in the natural and human-made world.

The artists converged in New Mexico as a result of a curatorial hunch initiated by Santa Fe based curator Tressa Berman. Having met Turner at her 12 Artists To Know exhibition at 516 Gallery in Albuquerque, their correspondence led to conversations about fabrication, fashion and bondage (sexual, social and aesthetic), and the conceptual turn to installation works that, on second glance, unveil masked meanings of power relations (interpersonal, historical, racial). When she later encountered Kapezanou’s vibrant paintings organized around the theme of female sovereignty at the Santa Fe Art Institute, the iconographies somehow spoke across cultural differences. Upon meeting, the two artists lit the studio ablaze with their synergy, captured now melding into one another’s work, in sisterhood and recognition of the wound.  

Both artists draw from universal cultural symbols, mindful of specificity of meanings that define history and place, while at the same time delving into deeper structures of visual language where mythological and psychological metaphors traverse social maps of connectivity. As in Kapezanou’s Here Be Dragons, unknown cartographies are marked by demons and dragons, harkening to dark ages of fearful and violent encounters in the real and imagined maps of exploration and colonization of body, place and mind. At the same time, there is beauty. Recurring elements join the two artists in a dance of divine feminine power that defies monumental tomes of brutality—slavery, warfare, patriarchy—to the generalized dangers wrought by Mother Nature herself, especially the dual forces of fire as creator and destroyer.  

Kapezanou’s Corn Maidens and Turner’s Showing Out for the Conflagration ground the symbolic elements of the show, while crows, black cats, dragons and cloaked human forms lurk among the stalks and surprise us with life-affirming vibrancy and voluptuousness. The title takes from several elements of the artists’ combined works: Corn, as life-giving, ceremonial seed, a place to hide, a maze of play. Birds, as symbols of Spirit, messengers and protectors, omens and the warding off of evil. Crop circles, concentric areas of cultivated elements—plants, rocks, shells, bone, earth—create a swirling geometry, like a labyrinth. In this way, the “conflagration” can ignite the scene in a sweeping flame as the artists join myths, mysteries and history in their creative exchange.