"Both artists, Mary Anne Barkhouse and Anna Williams spoke with me at the close of 2015 of a hunger to apply themselves to sculptural work that is on a more intimate scale than the outdoor public commissions that had taken them over in the previous few years. In a coincidence I could not overlook, each artist independently mentioned a desire to work with the other. The result, a body of work created in dialogue, is a new departure for each. The resonance between the two artists hovers over the animal image as entwined in the human imaginary.
Time spent with the artists yields wide-ranging and illuminating stories about animals. Mary Anne can't get down to work because she's busy rescuing butterflies, certain generations of which travel vast distances.... Anna has just saved a baby chipmunk cornered by her dogs, reviving it with honey and milk. Hospitality and courtesy rather than custom and order prove strong drives in these artists' lives and work. These are story-telling beads with historical reach that fashion together one's sense of situation in the world, one's worldview and one's sense of self governance.
The title Beneath the Tame hints at subversion or revelation. The tame has already been tamed. And yet, life lived and observed, remembered and considered empowers these artists to burrow in, under, below, beneath. Beneath, a preposition, not a noun, is a close extension that doesn't supplant the banner of the current noun, rule or system with another but engages it otherwise. Experience shared by the hospitable joining of forces such as the congregation of the many under pink Pussyhat ears, among other kinds of ears both furry and bald we meet in this exhibition, helps us usher in, strategically, tactically and otherwise, e.e.cummings' "the gay great happening illimitably earth."
- Lisa A. Pai