Amanda Maciel Antunes, "Speaking in Tongues VII" (2021), 53 x 53 inches, faux leather, acrylic, and thread (all photos by Elon Shoenholz)

LOS ANGELES — Ithaca at Luna Anaïs Gallery, the first solo show by Amanda Maciel Antunes, is based on The Odyssey, the epic poem of wayfaring and the search for home. Talismanic and homespun, the work deals in myth-making, the ancient stories told and retold.

And in the same way that a story shifts with each retelling, many of the mixed media pieces reveal palimpsestuous layers: forms eclipsed and reworked but bearing traces of what came before. In several works using found faux leather, the slit fabric curls from the canvas like a torn sail, or sliced hide, to disclose a soft underside of pink. Another series, Songs of a Poet, exposes sediments of poetic text, an arrangement of erasures, and overlays on handmade paper. Many of the pieces’ titles — “I’m Ready to Talk,” “Speaking in Tongues,” “I Have to Tell You This”suggest the importance of narrative in bridging the distance between here and there, past and present, the voyage and the destination.

Ithaca at Luna Anaïs Gallery, installation view featuring “Her Vessel” (2021)

The centerpiece of the show is a horned figure, packed with cotton, crouched on a crude raft made of palm tree branches and twine. The creature wears a robe embellished with Antunes’s poetry, each line stitched at the summit of Mount Wilson, which she would ceremonially climb each day during quarantine from her home in Sierra Madre.

With these scavenged materials — the branches and bits of gnarled cotton — Antunes, who is originally from Brazil, constructs a motherland. Such found materials are, after all, the wanderer’s tools: the scraps of place we find to create for ourselves a home, however temporary. Her repeated use of safety pins and thread — we always see the seams of things, how the objects have been painstakingly fastened together — only accentuates the fragility of home in a world in flux.

Ithaca at Luna Anaïs Gallery
Amanda Maciel Antunes, “I’m Ready to Talk” (2020), 65 x 28 inches, cotton fabric, thread, dye, and acrylic paint

Amanda Maciel Antunes: Ithaca continues at Luna Anaïs Gallery (1989 Blake Avenue, Elysian Valley, Los Angeles) through October 28.

Anya Ventura is a writer currently based in Los Angeles.