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    Abracadabra Universe, 2007 Vinyl text on board, wood, gold leaf, chemistry flask, Bunsen burner, altered book Collection of the artist This work represents Bart’s belief in the alchemical power of words. A Medieval predecessor to chemistry, alchemy involves distilling things to their material essence and then subjecting those essences to transformational processes. A metal Bunsen burner rests on The Universe, a 1987 collection of essays that explore the cosmos through the lenses of science, fiction, and art. The burner holds a glass laboratory flask filled with gold leaf. A rubber tube connects the apparatus above to the interior pages of the book below, leaving us to imagine that it is the interior world of the book that has powered a transformation of base metal to gold. Hanging next to these objects is a framed print featuring the word ABRACADABRA in red lettering. In keeping with ancient tradition, the word repeats with one letter diminished per line. The inverted triangle represents belief in the word’s power to diminish harm with each incantation, with the bottom of the triangle representing the point where the harmful forces disappear. According to ancient and Medieval physicians who prescribed Abracadabra amulets—physical objects worn on the body—the word offered personal protection and medicinal cure when it took written form.

    Processional, 1978 silk, copper, linen, wool, raffia, leather, found objects Collection of the artist These five empty garments hold the shape of a woman’s torso, while conjuring associations with a ceremonious ritual of transformation across five symbolic thresholds of a woman’s life. The Innocent, The Siren, The Matriarch, The Mourner, and The Ancestor are each made of woven black linen strands interlaced with materials of physical, emotional, and psychic significance. The pockets of The Mourner, for example, contain black Keriah ribbons, the Jewish symbol of sorrow, and The Ancestor has small leather bags filled with life’s remnants, including teeth, birth and marriage certificates, fragments of letters, and obituaries. The work was first exhibited at her 1978 debut solo exhibition at the WARM Gallery in Minneapolis and represents the culmination of her sculptural experimentations in fiber. In 1979, Bart shared intentions for this body of work: “I want my weavings to have a quality of mystery and strength about them, . . . to have some power of their own as they confront you.”