fig. 1: It's All About the Apple
Oil on canvas, 4x5'
© Maxine Olson
  fig 2: Sandwich, 1994
Enamel on vinyl, 72x56.5"
© Karen Carson

It's All About the Apple, Or is it?
© Susan Ressler, 1998

Joseph Campbell remarked that art is the only ritual medium we have left today, but that not many artists realize what they're handling. Exposure to and understanding of difference must be allowed to expand and help rehabilitate the role of the communal imagination. We dream, we see, and only then do we think and act. We see things in other traditions that have gone unnoticed in our own. If we are now in a somewhat absurd moment of naming, still anchored to our hyphens, our politically correct and awkward terms and lists, perhaps we can see this process as the laying of a groundwork, or the construction of a network, a safety net to catch the fragments as our preconceptions explode. --Lucy Lippard (1)


This compilation is an exploration of spirituality in women's art of the American west. As such, it presumes that art and ritual are one, and that through the myriad forms of our images, drawn from the myriad sources of our cultures and traditions, we can "rehabilitate the communal imagination" and create wholeness and connection in this often fragmented and disturbing world. Like Joseph Campbell, I believe in "the power of myth." Like Lucy Lippard, I believe that our preconceptions must explode as we construct ourselves anew, creating our future out of the shards of this historical moment.

The following essay, accompanied by the voices and visions of twenty-three women, is presented in the spirit of offering a prayer and of laying a foundation. It is "groundwork" in the sense of digging deep into rich and variegated soil to find our roots. It is "groundwork" because it is also preliminary, sometimes gritty, and often vexing as it raises questions about those roots - about who we are and about our faiths, beliefs, and actions.







All images © artists.
All text (other than quotation) © Susan Ressler.
(1) Lucy Lippard, Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America.
New York: Pantheon Books, 1990.

Watermark VW2D Technology © Purdue University.