Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Nancy Worthington

Cryptographic Self-Boxes (series of 14)

Cryptographic Self-Boxes (series of 14)

Nancy Worthington. Cryptographic Self-Boxes (series of 14), 1973–1977.

San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday, January 15, 1977, p. 35. . "A Haunting Series of Boxes" by Alfred Frankenstein

The Capricorn Asunder Gallery, at 165 Grove street, exists primarily to give exposure to new artists with new ideas, and four who qualify extremely well are exhibiting there right now.

The most impressive of the four, in some ways, is Nancy Worthington, whose principal contribution is a series of ten "cryptographic self-boxes." Each of these confronts you with an elaborately concocted, rather horrifying drawing of a human face or figure distorted in a manner one sees in textbooks on the art of the mentally disturbed. Each of these drawings is masked with a netting over its surface.

About six inches behind each drawing is a mirror which reflects, not what you would expect it to reflect, but a collaged female nude, mutilated in one way or another, and set on a checkerboard arrangement drawn on graph papers. The tragic implications in-each case are countered by many ironies - prickly little protuberances around the frames, mocking little animal faces, a plastic apple core hanging at the top of each box, little electric lights going on and off, and an intensely lyrical poem, typed, signed, and framed above each.

The more I try to describe these things, the more indescribable they become, but their impact is very strong. They haunt you afterward, and for a long time. Worthington is showing some large pieces, too, but do they 80 not stand up in interest to the smaller ones.

. .. Worthington's masks and mockeries stick so powerfully in one's mind.
…I am always a pushover for things in series, like those "cryptographic self-boxes."
Worthington, go 'way.

Mixed Media

sexual imagery, social commentary art, symbolism, fantasy, erotic, autobiography

Come Into My ParlorWith All Due Respect To Marilyn MonroeFemalinesReich"The Crossing" (detail)Cryptographic Self-Boxes (series of 14)The Veil of Isis

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