A Transporting New Exhibition Explores the Possibility That All Things Are Imbued With Spiritual Life—See Artworks Here

In this show at Jessica Silverman Gallery, artists celebrate the idea that all things—animals, plants, and objects—have an inner life.

Luke Butler, Harbinger (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.
Luke Butler, Harbinger (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

As galleries and art institutions around the world begin to reopen, we are spotlighting individual shows—online and IRL—that are worth your attention.

Conversational Spirits I & II
Online at Jessica Silverman, San Francisco

What the gallery says: “Jessica Silverman presents a two-part summer series, ‘Conversational Spirits,’ exploring animism—the belief that animals, plants, places, and objects can be enlivened by spirits or imminent powers.

“Associated with the worship of nature and the rise of subordinate souls, animism is a theme broadly relevant to a time in which equal rights, ecology, and biochemistry are serious concerns. Animism has long been germane to art insofar as the most compelling objects are imbued with such intention, intensity, and energy that they feel alive.”

Why it’s worth a look: Are humans the only creatures gifted with what can be called a spirit? Belief in the spiritual realm has had a resurgence lately in art (and elsewhere), with interest in the thought gaining momentum beyond niche circles.

From Judy Chicago’s tree branches, which pulsate with life, to Luke Butler’s paintings of bald eagles clutching paint brushes, and on through Tammy Rae Carland’s depictions of books, which seem to speak almost audibly, the plants, animals, and objects in these artworks are practically thinking, breathing beings—and by seemingly questioning their surroundings, they inspire viewers to do the same.

What it looks like:

Installation view of "Conversational Spirits I." Courtesy of Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Installation view of “Conversational Spirits I.” Courtesy of Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Rose B. Simpson, <i>Conjure</i> (2020) [detail]. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Rose B. Simpson, Conjure (2020) [detail]. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Dashiell Manley, <i>Those Seeing Flowers We Cannot See</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Dashiell Manley, Those Seeing Flowers We Cannot See (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Judy Chicago, <i>Trees Twisting with Joy</i> (1996). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Judy Chicago, Trees Twisting with Joy (1996). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Hayal Pozanti, <i>Their Own Internal Time 102 Rim Kona Kona</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Hayal Pozanti, Their Own Internal Time 102 (Rim Kona Kona) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman San Francisco.

Installation view of Tammy Rae Carland's work in "Conversational Spirits." Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman San Francisco.

Installation view of Tammy Rae Carland’s work in “Conversational Spirits.” Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman San Francisco.

Tammy Rae Carland, <i> Peeling Performativity</i>, (2019). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Tammy Rae Carland,
Peeling Performativity
, (2019). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman San Francisco.

Tammy Rae Carland, <i> Lean on me</i>, (2019). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Tammy Rae Carland,
Lean on me
, (2019). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman San Francisco.

Hernan Bas, <i>Feeding time at the Little Shop of Horrors,</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman San Francisco.

Hernan Bas, Feeding time at the Little Shop of Horrors, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman San Francisco.

Installation view of "Conversational Spirits II" at Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Installation view of “Conversational Spirits II” at Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Hernan Bas, <i>Feeding time at the Little Shop of Horrors,</i> [detail] (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Hernan Bas, Feeding time at the Little Shop of Horrors, [detail] (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Margo Wolowiec, <i>Seed Surge</i> (2020) [detail]. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Margo Wolowiec, Seed Surge (2020) [detail]. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Margo Wolowiec, <i>Seed Surge</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Margo Wolowiec, Seed Surge (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Claudia Wieser, <i>Untitled</i> (2019) left and right. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Claudia Wieser, Untitled (2019) left and right. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Julian Hoeber, <i>When the Meat Stops Thinking the Flies Arrive, For Better or Worse,</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Julian Hoeber, When the Meat Stops Thinking the Flies Arrive, For Better or Worse, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Installation view of "Conversational Spirits II." Courtesy of Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Installation view of “Conversational Spirits II.” Courtesy of Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Martha Friedman, <i>Nerve Language 1</i>, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Martha Friedman, Nerve Language 1, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Martha Friedman, <i>Nerve Language 3</i>, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Martha Friedman, Nerve Language 3, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

David Huffman, <i>Ideology,</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

David Huffman, Ideology, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Installation view of "Conversational Spirits II." Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Installation view of “Conversational Spirits II.” Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Daisy Youngblood, <i>Leaping I</i> (2010). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Daisy Youngblood, Leaping I (2010). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Installation view of "Conversational Spirits I." Courtesy of Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Installation view of “Conversational Spirits I.” Courtesy of Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Andrea Bowers, <i>If We Do Not Do the Impossible We Shall Be Faced With the Unthinkable</i> (2020) [detail]. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Andrea Bowers, If We Do Not Do the Impossible We Shall Be Faced With the Unthinkable (2020) [detail]. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share