Selected work from Plurabelle, 2018-2019
Ink wash, watercolors, acrylic and collage on paper, 14" x 11"
"...a striking portrait series, “Plurabelle,” (the title taken from James Joyce’s character Anna Livia Plurabelle in Finnegan’s Wake) presents women as fragmentized collages, their faces stylized masks of many ethnicities that camouflage, even corrupt identity. These are constructed out of multiple points of view into multiracial, interconnected visages—all the daughters of Eve—superficially visible but, ultimately, not truly seen. Composed of cut-outs from glossy publications, they have lipsticked mouths, cosmeticized eyes, polished nails, jeweled rings, and other contrived, generic emblems of female beautification and disguise, the natural woman made over into creatures of artifice and male desire. Transformed into an object of consumption, the jagged tears of the paper imply violence and abuse, prevalent in societies that undervalue and objectify women. These composite dissimulations are based on “existential anxiety,” Wasserman says, and “provide a way for women, like chameleons,” to navigate their way through oppressive cultures. Her women, however, do not appear subdued but instead regard the world with a steady gaze, one that seems full of unvoiced judgment and defiance, despite their apprehension.
Wasserman, who still delights in colors and materials with the spontaneity, immediacy, and wonder of childhood and which adds lightness to the gravity of her projects, drips paint deftly down the surfaces of these portraits, conjuring barbed and fibrous roots, staining areas and brushing on images of indigenous flora to create a more specific landscape and sense of place, contrasting natural elements with that cultivated by humans. She often includes the prickly pear in her iconography, also known as a sabra, a name given to native-born Israelis, self-characterized as spiny on the outside, but succulent and sweet on the inside, like the fruit."
Lily Wei, independent curator and writer, NYC, 2018, from the wander, woman catalog