“Whenever I’ve lost hope in the past few years, I go on a walk and watch for flashes of blue,” says Thais Mather.
The New Mexico artist is referring to the western bluebirds that live in her garden and the surrounding high desert terrain. They’re often preyed upon by fiercely territorial swallows, but they manage to thrive. Mather mirrors and magnifies the experience of spotting one in her new exhibition Western Blue, suspending a 20-by-20-foot, cloth-and-metal bluebird lantern in form & concept’s atrium space. The monumental sculpture crowns a 5,000-square-foot solo show—Mather’s second major display at the gallery—featuring paintings, sculptures, drawings and installation art. It also forms the heart of Mather’s exploration of the collective consciousness during a time in which we are not sure how much longer humanity will endure.
“For me, the pandemic was a time of deeply listening to the non-human animate world and surrounding myself with family,” says Mather. “In Western Blue, I sought to create work that spirits the everyday with magic.” The show includes an immersive installation of 100 “evil eye” paintings; 20 interactive wax sculptures cast from the artist’s own arms and hands; four pointillist drawing studies of “spirit masks’’ unearthed from the Judean Hills; and the aforementioned bluebird lantern, which was collaboratively fabricated with local artist Amy Westphal. “As always, Thais has chosen a dazzling array of materials with which to express herself,” says Gallery Director Jordan Eddy. “One unifying theme is vision as a bridge to the unknown. We see faster than we can rationally process, and that opens up emotional conduits to unexpected things. Another theme, of course, is the ecstasy and despair of the color blue.”