Go to any major museum and you see art based on mythology, from the Renaissance to modern times. Nobody knows why. in Goddesses and Monsters at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, Monica Zeringue’s spectacular graphite drawings — nude self portraits of the artist in various mythic guises — may offer some clues even as they evoke contemporary performance art. In Cloak (pictured), she appears on all fours in a lion’s skin a la Hercules. This marks a big departure from earlier drawings based on her more introverted schoolgirl self, which resurfaces in her Ophelia Descending drawing in this show. Inspired by John Millais’ great painting of a drowning Ophelia, Zeringue’s version depicts childlike images of herself entangled in a waterfall of hair, the main element in her earlier work. Hair suggests the tangled currents of the psyche, but in these new drawings she’s having a better, or at least bolder, hair day. In Hide and Seek she appears as twin women with many arms like those multilimbed east Asian deities, only here they seem to be questioning each other.
Myths linger because they distill essential human traits, for better or worse, so they epitomize aspects of who we are inside. In this show, Zeringue takes off — in all sorts of ways — like the eagle in the Prometheus legend.
Stephanie Patton’s Private Practice show continues her exploration of psychic and physical healing in padded white vinyl wall hangings, fanciful soft sculptures that evoke the convolutions of the brain or even padded cells — or maybe what might have happened had a bedding company hired Salvador Dali as a designer. But Patton offers a few clues in the form of mattresslike letters spelling out the words “Good Boy,” or a video of her head covered in mummylike Band-Aid wrappings that she painfully yanks off one by one. Enigmatic and minimal, her soft sculptures defy easy interpretation, and if that seems like too much work, remember, you can probably sleep on them.
Through April 23
Goddesses and Monsters: Graphite drawings by Monica Zeringue
Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., (504) 522-5471
Through April 20
Private Practice: Multi media by Stephanie Patton
Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St., (504) 522-1999