Don't Fence Me In, Marina Walker
Santa Barbara News-Press - Scene Magazine
July 9, 1999, p. 43.

Jana Zimmer, Balkan Dance


When we think of boxes, we think of something made to hold, confine, contain or enclose. Boxes are made to put things in. Rarely is one a canvas, a garden, a library, a bird's nest or a sanctuary.

Those variations are but a small sample of the captivating and very personal art exploding out of 96 small wooden boxes in Lending a Hand at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum. This show is a delightful return in the orbit of the original Women Beyond Borders exhibition, the creation of a group of Santa Barbara artists in 1995. On the road traveling through galleries and museums worldwide since then, the concept has come back to us as 96 individual, dynamic expressions of the feminine spirit.

Gail Berkus , Untitled

Each piece features at its center, a small wooden box, every one exactly the same in its raw state. While that may sound like an impossibly static beginning, the potential for limitation quickly becomes something quite other, providing a steady compass heading for a poignant, all-woman journey across a very creative sea. The names of the pieces are a clue to what awaits: "Biological Baby Buggy," "Throne For a Smart Princess," "Columbine-- Friend of Mine," "What I Did For Love," "My Granny Box," "1 Box For 1 Woman Is Never Enough," being just a few examples.

The feelings that flow from these tiny boxes are powerful and may have a good bit to tell us about where the world is heading. In spite of all we have learned about living on a sphere over the past few hundred years, the flat earth concept still dogs us into a straight-line, hard-edged thinking, the kind that often runs us head-on into our worst nightmares. There has always been another way to look at our world-- one that accepts creation as mother or sister instead of as subject to be dominated. This show shouts out that option without apology. Women know too well about confinement, stagnation of attitudes, arbitrary limits placed on creation by flat earth thinking-- about being boxed in. If these boxes beyond borders are an indication of where women are at with all that nonsense, I'd say they've just about had enough.

Yony Waite, Garden of Eden

Born not of rhetoric, nor anything stale or militant, this show is a eyes-wide-open look at the consequences of flat earth thinking (environmental degradation, crushing poverty, senseless violence, indifference to suffering) juxtaposed with an equally honest embrace of the flow of joy in life. This is dancing over the borders, to hell with fences and a tabletop world. This is what living on a beautiful blue ball looks like -- right here, right now -- as seen through the eyes of a group of very insightful, terribly creative women.

(Lending a Hand: Women Beyond Borders Benefit Exhibition continues through August 29 at the Contemporary Arts Forum, upstairs in the .......A select number of boxes on display at...........Funds raised assist in transporting the entire exhibition around the world before it returns to Santa Barbara in 2001.)