a.Muse Gallery is pleased to welcome back Bay Area collage artist Vanessa Woods (Courtesy Jack Fischer Gallery) for a solo exhibition titled Emic/Etic. The exhibition showcases over forty unique
collages created for Woods’s recently published book of the same name. The book, and corresponding collages, explore subversion, classification, and fantasy to imagine an ethnographer’s study of a lost tribe.
"At its core collage is subversive because you are collecting images, stripping them of their original context and re-contextualizing them,” says Woods. “Collage becomes a way to endlessly re-imagine and re-invent history. In our highly image
saturated world, collage also allows you to exert control by imposing new meaning on visual material intended for mass consumption.”
Sourcing original historical and contemporary material, Emic/Etic explores the embattled tradition of western ethnographic interpretation poised between scientific objectivity and moralistic storytelling. The title Emic/Etic is anthropological in origin: “emic” field research refers to an account of a culture derived from people within the culture, while “etic” field research refers to an outside scientific observer describing a culture’s behaviors or beliefs.
In the work, scientific systems of classification drawn from anthropological study such as scale/size indicators, numerical systems and invented maps create a fictional method of ordering disparate material.
Drawing collage material from diverse histories, cultures and populations, including colonial era photographs, archaeological artifacts and contemporary fashion magazines, Emic/Etic creates a fictional culture that oscillates between
the real and the imagined. Invented idols, imagined rituals, and reconfigured symbols serve to create new mythologies that collapse internal (emic) and external (etic) orders of classification. A selection of over forty original collages
made between 2014 and 2016, as well as Wood’s monograph published by Super Classy Publishing, will be included in this exhibition.