Knock on wood. Grab the lucky penny. Don’t cross the black cat’s path. Beware the number 13. Drive a rusty nail through a lime to avoid the evil eye.
Superstition is one of the most uniting forces across cultures. Whether conscious or unconscious, with zeal, skepticism or denial, our behaviors, daily rhythms, architecture and design are determined by superstitions both arcane and contemporary.
Artist Jason Metcalf has painstakingly researched, re-enacted and refreshed languages of superstition long forgotten from day-to-day vernacular with provenance in places as far as Haiti and as near as the Sanpete Valley. Entities, obsessions, legends and lore from various local cultures provide the sculptural and performative language displayed in his solo exhibition.
Many of the artworks on view are sourced from verbal descriptions passed down from generations as if our folkloric sayings were themselves giving instructions for how to make conceptual sculpture. Like an urban legend preceding its actual occurrence, by producing them in the flesh, Metcalf both proves and sustains a legend’s existence while providing visual culture with an almost archetypal illustration to keep in mind. In this respect the artist refers to his works as “forgeries”, since they are not borne from the purpose they were designed and function as a visual surrogate. The objects and the aura they project beg the questions of inherent occult properties. Is it possible to realize an archive of superstition without fearing its total magic?