Saya Woolfalk’s Hallucinatory Chimeras: The Empathics

Multi-faceted artist Saya Woolfalk is burning hallucinatory fires up and down both coasts the beginning of 2013, with dual shows in NYC and Portland. Three-dimensional or two-dimensional, still structure or moving image, Woolfalk navigates it all like a Play-Doh wizard gone haywire or a visionary artist on acid.

Her latest solo show, Chimera, is a full-bodied, multi-disciplinary exploration of Woolfalk’s fictional species of Empathics, who are genetic chimeras comprised of two or more genetically-distinct tissues. The series is sci-fi-inspired, with an underlying commentary about the transformation of identities through biological hybridization. Though these issues may seem foreign and otherwordly — especially when tackled in the visually-striking way that Woolfalk has — they may indeed have increasing relevance in our world in the face of scientific progress.

Stay tuned for Woolfalk’s in-depth interview with REDEFINE this upcoming month, and view the full post for more information on Woolfalk’s shows and the Empathics.

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Chimera is now on display at Third Streaming in NYC’s Soho neighborhood (10 Greene street, Second floor), where all of the works below can be seen alongside multimedia works, installations, and paintings. Come March 2012, Disjecta in Portland (8371 N Interstate Avenue) will be hosting a similar show of Woolfalk’s work. The show at Third Streaming runs through April 25th, 2013.

As described by the Montclair Art Museum about Woolfalk’s work:

“Blending fantasy, humor, and play, Woolfalk’s art draws on anthropology, mythology, and fashion to present a fantastical world that encourages us to consider our most pressing societal issues, particularly concerning cultural difference, in a new light. The titular Empathics are a fictional group of women who, the artist imagines, blend racial and ethnic identities as they metamorphose, taking on characteristics of both humans and plants. In the exhibition, the Empathics’ story unfolds in the form of a fictitious ethnographic display—yet with kaleidoscopic colors, patterns, and textures unique to Woolfalk’s extraordinary vision. Woolfalk’s colorful installation includes human-scale, fabric-based sculptures, some of which double as costumes in her innovative performances; intricate paintings; thought-provoking videos; and interactive web technologies.”

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Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. 2022 sees the release of their next short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature film.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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