Born and bred in New Orleans, 34-year-old sculptor Louise Farrell was a newly-single mother of two when she arrived in Brookline, Massachusetts. Her path had led from a Catholic women’s college outside Chicago to Omaha, Nebraska, to Boulder, Colorado, and then the Five College area around Amherst, Massachusetts. Along the way, she was a resident artist at Creighton University, campaigned for Eugene McCarthy, started an underground newspaper, married a fellow activist, opened a bookstore and raised prize-winning English mastiffs. Before getting her masters at Mass College of Art in the late 1980s, her figurative forms cast in bronze and polyester resin were already feminist in their themes and environmental in their formal demands.
“Fate,” Farrell’s opus of the last three years, will hang floor-to- ceiling at Kingston Gallery in Boston’s SoWa District in September. An imposing 10-foot structure dripping skeins and strands of dismembered rope, it’s hardly figurative in any traditional sense. The work in progress dwarfed me when I visited her crowded studio one muggy afternoon in late July. Its prickly masses of gray-green-brown mats and fibrous tendrils fairly pulsate as they rush down from on high like a river freed from its banks. The pristine gallery will leave barely enough space for a viewer to circle around it and none to peer above.
To Farrell, the form represents Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life of Norse mythology. Growing through many realms at once, it supports and unites the cosmos and shapes the course of human destiny. Three Norns water Yggdrasil’s leaves from Wyrd, the Well of Knowledge, to keep it green and living, and they tend its ever-downward-growing roots.