54 1/2 E. San Francisco St. #7
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 25, 6-9pm
May 25 - August 3, 2019
Drew MC’s Love Spell was sparked by a romance, but that’s just the prologue. The Santa Fe artist spent over a year exchanging intimate text messages and photographs with a faraway lover. When he vanished into the digital void, she was left with hundreds of images of herself. From this incomplete record of a distinctly modern relationship, MC illustrated, collaged and sculpted a mystical origin story for a new type of epic hero. Love Spell, opening Saturday, May 25 at No Land, unravels modern notions of faith, duty, destiny and identity.
“I didn’t want this to be the ending,” admits MC. “People keep telling me that I learned about myself, but I had to find something more vital and complicated than that.” She’s still a bit lost in the twilight of her mostly virtual love affair, which ended last winter. Her lover was a foreign soldier from an elite fighting force, so they had intermittent contact after their initial encounter.
“Part of the intense pull was this warrior identity he had. I got a taste of that, and it started to radically change my work,” MC says. She was already a few years deep in a dedicated art practice, which had intertwined with her spiritual practice. “I had developed this sense of duty, of obedience to something that was speaking through me,” she explains. “I used to call it channeling.” Her aesthetic was deeply symbolic, inspired by the allegories of the Pre-Raphaelites, the bold illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley, and the esoteric universe of the Rider-Waite tarot deck. Her early works were mostly ink drawings, usually in monochromatic hues with accents of gold and silver.
MC’s romantic experience seeped into her palette and spiked her illustrations with psychedelic hues. Her lines multiplied, forming complex compositions inspired by the sensual photographs she was creating. A new array of symbols brought her work into conceptual alignment with the confessional art of Louise Bourgeois and Tracy Emin. MC felt as though she had embarked on her own military mission or religious crusade. “You can try to conquer me if you like,” wrote her lover in one message.
The relationship ended, as so many modern-day trysts do, on the virtual plane. His side of a long email exchange abruptly halted and the spell was ostensibly broken, though the drawings continued to spill out. “I felt like I was writing a book on my own life, and I just wanted to get to some sort of fucking conclusion,” MC says.
As the weeks and months wore on, she began to reframe the story she was telling. The body of work had started as a visual chronicle of a passionate romance, but it was morphing into something else. There are no depictions of MC’s lover in the final array of artworks that make up Love Spell. Most of the drawings and collages are inspired by the artist’s own form, though they aren’t exactly self-portraits. MC started to conceive of the woman in the images as a fully formed being that had split off from her, continuing her epic quest in a new direction.
“The only thing you control is your internal world and your spirit. If you really want to live a hero’s journey, it has to begin in an internal place,” MC says. “You have to be willing to love your story, and fall in love with that vision of yourself as a character in a grand narrative. You have to yield to it, and you don’t get to choose what it’s going to be.”
Love Spell consists of drawings, collages, marked-up photographs and sculptures. They appear with ephemera and correspondence from different points in MC’s creative process, but the show is not a trail of clues leading to a romantic reunion. From the rubble of love’s battlefield, MC’s facsimile rose to roam farther afield—solitary and imperfect, but exuberant, sensual, and dangerous. “This experience woke up something in me. It made me want to explore the warrior experience, which was incredibly painful at times,” says MC. “I hope other people draw courage to fight their own battles from this work. That would make it worth it.”
Drew MC is an identity that arose out of the ashes of a breakdown. She arrived as the image of a woman pierced by her own sword, an image and a theme that continues to resonate throughout my work and my life. I paint and draw with ink almost exclusively, and the feeling of ink gliding across and into paper evokes a deep sense of peace and satisfaction in my soul. The bedrock of my artistic practice, the reason I create, is to do the work that God asks of me. My artistic practice and my spiritual practice are two strands of the same DNA, and my hope is that all who are drawn to my images find within them the message they have been waiting for.