Tarot dates back to the Renaissance era, thought by some to be an interpretation of dreams or a foretelling of the future. The Rider Waite Smith deck, which debuted in 1909, was the first deck to be mass-produced in English and remains the most popular today (published ten years before Kandinsky's "On the Spiritual in Art" in 1919.) The Tarot saw a surge of popularity during the counter-cultural movements of the late sixties and early seventies.
People often seek meaning from spiritual or transcendental non-religious objects in times when ideology and freedom clash. Value systems and semiotics are at play here. Comparing decks is comparing worldviews. And the aesthetics of engagement of the deck represent the primacy of the aesthetics in creating meaning from shared, inherited common source.
Artists Christine Wang and Mieke Marple have similarly sought playful wisdom from the Tarot in their recent bodies of work creating their own satirical and personal contemplations on the traditional archetypes of the deck amidst a time of cultural uncertainty. In this panel discussion, Susan Sutton moderates a discussion on how the Tarot might function as a means to engage both the personal and the collective, with Wang and Marple alongside psychic and seer Laura Zuspan.
Susan Sutton is the recent former Executive Director of Ballroom Marfa and previously was an Assistant Curator at the Menil Collection where she curated The Menil's exhibition, A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James (2014) and co-organized Byzantine Things in the World (2013), and Progress of Love (2012). She holds a bachelor's in art history from the University of Houston and a master's in art history of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.
Christine Wang received her BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science in 2008 and her MFA in painting from UCLA in 2013. Wang is an Assistant Professor in Painting at California College of Art in San Francisco. Wang is currently represented by Night Gallery in Los Angeles and Galerie Nagel Draxler in Berlin and Cologne. Forthcoming exhibitions include a solo booth at the Independent Art Fair in March 2018 with Night Gallery.
Mieke Marple received her B.A. from the University of California Los Angeles in 2008. She was co-owner of Night Gallery, Los Angeles, from 2011 until 2016 and has been written about by The New York Times and W Magazine among other publications. Marple is currently an artist in residency at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Laura Zuspan is an artist and seer. She received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and has shown her art internationally. She has studied Buddhism at Insight Meditation Center, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Thailand and trained at the Niroga Institute in yoga outreach. Laura recently opened a private reading room to see clients privately located in central Oakland.