The first thing you notice about the artist Acataphasia Grey is an air of twisted opulence; it tinges everything from her formal way of speaking, to her complicated name, from “a medical Latin term that basically means, ‘Being able to form complete sentences in your head but not say them out loud.'” And that’s before you see the doleful, three-eyed stuffed bunnies she makes, or photos of the surrealist Old World tea party she convened, attended by taxidermy zebras and assorted other African game.
This creator of phantasmagoria confesses to a penchant for the past, “Specifically, the rage for ‘cabinets of curiosities’ that the Victorians were so particularly fond of, and the taxonomy collectors. The unusual being regarded as special, or better than normal.” Grey’s own unique brand of taxonomy will be on exhibit in a Spaceworks Tacoma installation, Tea for Short Expectations, opening March 15. “I envision a clandestine gathering of mutant animals: drinking tea, eating sugar cubes or upsetting the cream in an atmosphere of secrecy and safety,” she muses. Alice in Wonderland gone awry? The scene will be partially obscured “to enhance the feeling that this is a glimpse into a private world, not commonly seen, but perhaps going on all around you.”
Grey glides like a changeling between the self-created worlds and time periods she inhabits. In a previous life, she was art director of a Bainbridge Island production company where she oversaw projects ranging from an M-TV music video to the transformation of a defunct bar into a fabulous set for a Bombay Sapphire gin shoot. She has been a full-time artist for several years.
In addition to her large-scale art, Grey creates original soft toys; stuffed animals that, while cuddly, could be read as the abandoned playthings of an ill-fated dystopia. “‘Bunnies’ is my generic term for any stuffed animal,” she says. “I look at them and my goal is to ‘fix’ them, so that they have teeth at last, or better eyes, or many, many eyes…I could say that the objective is to whisper, ‘Hey, it’s perfectly alright to like this better because it has two heads. You are not alone.'” Enter the world of Acataphasia Grey at www.morbidtendencies.com. Tea for Short Expectations, Opera Alley, March 15 through July 1.