Yellow Peril Gallery Presents "32 Ghosts" by Toby Barnes at The Drawing Room, in Conjunction with LANA’s Sixth Annual Conference in Providence

Mixed media exhibition exploring ritual practices, individuals, and the nonhuman world in everyday life by Toby Barnes at The Drawing Room.

Providence, RI, August 06, 2015 --( Yellow Peril Gallery is pleased to present 32 Ghosts, a mixed media exhibition exploring ritual practices, individuals, and the nonhuman world in everyday life by Toby Barnes at The Drawing Room from August 7 – 9, 2015. The opening reception will be hosted by Yellow Peril Gallery, the Laotian Community Center of Rhode Island and the Laotian American National Alliance (LANA), in conjunction with LANA’s sixth annual national conference in Providence in 2015.

32 Ghosts is inspired by an indigenous ritual that takes places in Laos and Northeastern Thailand (Issan) called Baci Su Kwan. In this ceremony — which usually marks an important event such as a birth, wedding, graduation, or becoming a monk — a community invokes the “kwan,” the 32 spirits believed to inhabit a person’s body and correspond to their 32 organs. They roam and wonder, and the baci is their invocation to return back to the body and bring harmony and balance to the person. At the heart of the baci ceremony is an artistic practice to compose an elaborate ornamental piece called the Baci Su Kwan. This artistic practice is complex and involves a pedestal encasing banana leaves, candles, flowers, and other fruit and food offerings, along with a series of strings that are attached to the person celebrated and to the members of the community.

“Rituals permeate our lives, yet despite their important presence we rarely reflect on how much they depend upon the nonhuman world and its 'magic' to help us commemorate, define, and re-enchant our lives,” remarks Barnes. “Whether it’s rituals like a morning run and a cup of coffee over a newspaper, or 'showers' to commemorate an upcoming wedding or the birth of a child, these rituals engage with 'matter' (trees, paper, bridal shower decorations) in ways that reflect more than utilitarian goals, seeking to bring about personal harmony, 'good luck,' and to commemorate beginning and endings.”

To explore these relations between rituals, people, and matter, this exhibition draws upon the Baci Su Kwan practice. Through a blend of painting over photographic collages, Barnes creates a contemporary reinterpretation of the Baci Su Kwan. This mixed-media installation will include a Baci Su Kwan ceremony performed by monks from the Wat Lao Dhammaramto.

This exhibition has been made possible through a generous A.R.T. Fund Grant from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, and thanks to the support of the Laotian Community Center of Rhode Island, the Laotian American National Alliance (LANA), The Drawing Room, and Campus Fine Wines.

The opening reception for 32 Ghosts is Friday, August 7, from 6PM – 9PM. The exhibition will be on display until Sunday, August 9, 2015 at The Drawing Room.

About Toby Barnes

Born in Miami, Florida, Toby Barnes is an artist of Thai-American heritage. He earned his BFA (1997) from Cooper Union and his MFA (1999) from the University of Michigan. Barnes has exhibited nationally and internationally, including most recently solo shows in Providence, India, and invitations to exhibit in Miami, Japan, P.S.1 MOMA and galleries throughout the greater New York City area. His work has been reviewed in publications such as The Japan Times, Art Asia Pacific, Time Out (Bengaluru), The Hindu, Nishi Nihon Shimbun, Artnet, Valley Gazette and The Phoenix, has been featured in the cover of publications such as Time Out India and NYArts Magazine. In 2008-2009, Barnes participated in the Emerge 10 program at Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art in Newark, NJ. Barnes is currently based in Amherst, MA. For more info about Barnes, visit
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