Joan Brown

Mills College Art Gallery

This extensive survey of work produced between 1977 and 1982 demonstrates that Joan Brown’s familiar themes of autobiography and travel have merged into images more directly suggestive of a psychic quest. Columnar sculpture and paintings on canvas, wood, or paper narrate the two essential directions of Brown’s strivings. One is evolutionally downward: in her pervasive self-portraits she sometimes cradles or is partially transfigured into a cat, sometimes interacts with a hybrid cat/priest, suggesting a desire to assimilate primal feline intuitions and agility. The other impulse is upward, toward a higher consciousness, frequently represented here by Egyptian and Indian occult symbols.

Thus, in the subject matter of her work, Brown aims to promote an attitude of receptivity to the “other side, to animalistic nature and the supernatural. Paradoxically, however, her manner of rendering her

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