“Family Ties” featuring Mary Edna Fraser, Reba West Fraser, and Labanna Babalon
Curated by Erin and Justin Nathanson of The Southern
Exhibit Dates: May 25 through July 29, 2018
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 24 from 6 – 8pm
Location: Gallery 26, The Vendue Art Hotel, 26 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401
Gallery Hours: 10am – 7pm; daily
The Southern gallery and The Vendue Art Hotel are pleased to present “Family Ties,” an exploration of the interconnectedness of a family of makers: the matriarch, batikist, printmaker, and oil painter, Mary Edna Fraser, younger daughter and multimedia artist, Reba West Fraser, and elder daughter and performance artist, Labanna Babalon. This is their first exhibition as a family.
Mary Edna Fraser, renowned artist and activist, lives and works on James Island in the same house and studio that she raised her two daughters. Mary Edna is known for her bright, vivid colors as well as a birds eye view of various natural scenes. For Family Ties, she will present new paintings as well as new batiks she and her daughter Reba recently created together for this exhibit. “It wasn’t until I made a batik with my mother recently, that I saw how much she included me in her everyday practice as a child,” Reba recalls. “I would come into her studio and she would let me pick which brush she should use next, help her choose colors, wipe away the dye that bubbled on top of the wax and even name her work.” This constant immersion into the physicality and emotionality of the art-making process molded the two artists into the strong, creative women Labanna and Reba are today.
Reba West Fraser currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina and owns a thrift store named Hey Okay Good Goodies in addition to her studio practice. She graduated from Alfred University in New York with a focus in painting, printmaking, and ceramics. This multimedia approach can still be seen throughout Reba’s work through her use of collaged materials and mark-making techniques. Reba describes her work as “a combination of ceramics and painting, patterns that mimic textiles, and experimentation with materials.” She has been influenced by the “extreme attention to detail and elaborate patterns” in her mother’s collection of textiles inspired by Japanese kimonos and handmade ceramics. Reba describes her work with lightheartedness, saying, “Most of my work is very colorful, and almost comical.” Throughout the mass of her work, the viewer picks up on hints of jest where materials are concerned, but finesse when it comes to composition and color theory.
Labanna Babalon, the elder daughter, now resides in New Orleans, where the lifestyle of a queer, sexually-empowered woman is celebrated, not condemned. She has traveled and performed through the US, living in New York, Los Angeles and Europe, and participated in a feature-length movie “Desire Will Set You Free” by Yony Leyser. Her internet energy healing has moved from her bedroom to life for MOMA Ps1. Prior to the death of her 3-year brother Daniel, Labanna chose Mary Edna’s womb for her spirit, which has encouraged her growth as a wild and expressive woman. She would not be the strong feminist today without the support of her mama and brazenly unconventional friends. Labanna’s work is centered around making people feel seen. This is her art–an energetic reflection of what each individual needs to heal. Sexuality is pivotal in these expressions, and sexual healing is made possible through these transmutative acts of creation, emphasizing existence dependent upon copulation. She has found continuity in a return to Mother Earth. Her art transcends the tangible object presented, through her embodiment of vulnerability. Her work fearlessly navigates often taboo terrains of sexual trauma and race/gender oppression. She uses dance, costuming, set design, installation, video, food, spells, and music to set the stage for channeling the divine feminine.