Norma Minkowitz, “I Give Myself,” 2010

Norma Minkowitz ensnares unwary gallery gypsies in her current show at Snyderman-Works Galleries, Storylines. It’s a delightful dive into the macabre, with myth swimming just below the surface. Minkowitz dances around dark themes with the same mixture of elegance and whimsicality with which Edgar Allan Poe once wielded a pen.

Like a modern-day Ariadne, Minkowitz draws viewers inside her labyrinthine world with a ball of twine – or rather a drawing of one that hangs just by the gallery entrance. The drawing forms the backdrop for her sculptural piece “I Give Myself (2010).” A second ball of twine winds its way around the arms of what appears to be a mummified Egyptian god, rabbit-headed like the goddess Unut, but shorn of feminine identity. The figure sits, hulking body attached to cartoonishly shrunken head, like the unearthed creation of a desert-dwelling Frankenstein.

Bodies writhe around mixed media piece “Excavation (2007),” a fiber-graphed Riemann sphere where the point of infinity represents suffering and anguish. Spikes protrude from the surface, scattered amidst flattened human forms and skull-like droplets. It’s a danse macabre that could double as a death-trap should it roll from its pedestal in Indiana Jones fashion.

Norma Minkowitz, “Excavation,” 2007

Music, normally the wings of the soul, becomes trapped inside the head of female sculpture, “Music in My Head (2008).” The phrase “song stuck in your head” takes a sinister twist under Minkowitz’s guidance, as the musical notes do appear literally stuck within a cerebral cage. A winged creature sits upon the woman’s mouth, blocking the music from its only escape route.

As Minkowitz promises in her artist statement, “entrapment” is the recurring theme on display at Snyderman-Works Galleries through April 27. Lose yourself in a world of flightless birds and eyeless visionaries, before your chance to see it closes shut on you forever.

Darla Jackson

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