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Sometimes a Cigar Box Isn't a Cigar Box 

Wednesday, Jun 27 2012
April Chartrand is a fiberalchemist who wrote a book called Angel's Destiny: A Novel Story of Poems & Illustrations and received her own day in 1997 -- April Chartrand Day -- courtesy of former Mayor Willie Brown. You might feel like you just stepped into the Museum of Jurassic Technology, but don't: A fiberalchemist is simply an artist who transmutes "baser matter or materials composed of fiber filaments into pieces of art" (according to Chartrand). Her multi-genre book does indeed contain poems and prose and art (but no novel, alas), and Willie Brown is the guy who ran this place before the handsome one (1996-2004, for those new to the city). Today, we're concerned with Chartrand's curiously named Fiberalchemy, in the form of the exhibit titled Treasured Cigar Box. We know we have you: Art that uses cigar boxes is irresistible on many levels. But Chartrand kicks the cigar-box genre up a few notches, linking tobacco, a major export of the New World, to the colonial slave trade and the global trading companies that profited by exploiting African slaves. Her boxes come across as totems from another time, ritual containers filled with all manner of evocative materials (keys, coins, and currencies from various countries, miniature skeletons, jewelry, beads, precious stones) arranged into haunting, mysterious tableaus -- not unlike something you might see in the Museum of Jurassic Technology, to be honest.
June 23-Aug. 23, 2012

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Michael Leaverton

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