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Mace & Crown | March 22, 2018

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Art Review: 'The Babble That We Think We Mean'

Alyssa Branch | Contributing Writer

With the creation of pieces made of recyclable wood, Crizti Walsh has spent the last couple of years creating remarkable characters, each with individual back stories. They are now being presented at her first ever solo show. “The Babble That We Think We Mean” is a beautiful exhibit displaying 30 of her paintings at Gallery 21 in Norfolk, VA.

Walsh’s paintings portray many distinct characters, including a Tanzanian albino, an anorexic woman and a naked devil. Her attention to detail and astounding creativity is relevant in each piece. Not having any former training, Walsh has created these alluring characters from scratch.

Although having back stories for her pieces are part of her creative process, Walsh tells VEER Magazine that people often come up with their own interpretations for her work. For example, when people see her painting “There’s No Place Like Homeless” some see a fisherman, while others see the intended homeless man.

Another piece characterizes an African voodoo priestess, but some see simply an African woman living within the intense circumstances of her everyday life. The idea of sacrifice and blood magic are identifiable as she holds a bird and a skull on a stick next to her. It is easy to look past the artist’s intentions when your own interpretations are brewing hot like morning coffee.

Photo by Alyssa Branch

In her painting “My Mother Flying Over Hell”, a pale naked lady stands out against the fiery dark background of Hell. Underneath are demons reaching up toward the woman. The inspiration for this strange piece came to her in a nightmare of her mother floating above the depths of Hell.

In Tanzania, witch doctors believe albinos are a sort of charm, any part of them is supposed to bring good luck and wealth. This morbid belief has led to a hunt for Tanzanian albinos – not only for the good fortune but for the high price on the black market. “Ceru Ceru” is the name of the painting that illustrates the pain, fear and the missing limbs of these albinos in Africa.

“The Other Side of the Mirror” is one of the less abstract pieces but, nevertheless, shows great detail. This piece depicts a naked woman delicately placing her hand against the mirror and weeping. The detail in her face is phenomenal – you can truly see the pain in her eyes and her face is covered in the distinct details of sorrow. Her nose is red, eyes puffed and lips quivering.

This painting is not colorful and abstract like a few of Walsh’s other pieces, however, it is very real and has an intensity that evoked the feeling of empathy for this woman. What’s beautiful about this piece is the vast amount of room there is for interpretation. Without knowing the name of the painting one would think she is trapped within, not inspecting her own reflection.

Photo by Alyssa Branch

Not all of her work has intricate back stories, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of causing a reaction or feeling towards the piece. Some of these pieces are more interesting because they have no description, just an openness for perception. The naked devil is intriguing and sexual while the anorexic lady makes you feel saddened or even provoked. The most relatable are the wooden doors with faces of love and romance.

Photo by Alyssa Branch

Many of her pieces are defined and others more abstract, but each prompts the spectator to feel and notice things about art that not many other works are able to convey. Despite the established stories, the pieces are very relatable and engaging. Her work is set up in a simple open viewing area with natural light complementing every piece.

Gallery 21 is displaying Walsh’s work through late September. The exhibit is free and open to the public, Friday through Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. All of her work is currently being sold at the gallery until the exhibit is closed. A select few prints in various sizes are available for purchase as well.

  • Crizti Walsh

    Thank you for the write up!