by Laura Hutson
When Amelia Garretson-Persans was in the third grade, she and her friends formed a secret club dedicated to the discussion of their dreams. At an age where so many people have such little control over most aspects of their lives, the vast continent of a dreaming mind can be especially liberating, and 8-year-old Amelia held on to that place with both hands. In her latest series, which is currently on view in the lobby of The Belcourt, she’s taken a wellspring of mental mythology and created a series of 22 hand-designed, screen-printed tarot cards.
The series is based on the classic Rider-Waite Tarot Deck designed by Pamela Colman Smith in the early 1900s, but here, Garretson-Persans has replaced cards like The Fool and The Hermit with deeply personal symbols like “My Great Aunt’s Hands,” “That Prince Song,” and of course “The Dream Club.” In her artist’s statement, she says that the collection is “inspired by the symbols that have occurred and recurred in her own life. The images have been culled from memories, dreams, fears and hopes for the future. … In an era ostensibly devoid of superstition, Garretson-Persans hopes to remind viewers that our everyday experience is filtered through our own sense of meaning or our own cryptic code.” The card titled "The Staircase Meeting," for example, refers to the secret meetings that she and her She-Ra figurines conducted under the staircase in her childhood home. "The Witch's House" is a scary home she grew up near that was rumored to be inhabited by a witch and her 11 rarely seen orphan children. The woman's taste for garish wallpaper is echoed in the card design.
Look through some images I took on Sunday’s exhibition opening below, and go see the work for yourself — it will be up at The Belcourt through Dec. 9. We’ll be featuring more about Amelia Garretson-Persans all November — look for posts on Country Life with the AOTM tag.