05/04/2012 11:02 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Bound in Wonderland

This week marks the end of the In Wonderland exhibit at LACMA, a three-month-long journey into the subconscious of female surrealist artists like Rosa Rolanda, Leonora Carrington, Jacqueline Lamba, Helen Lundeberg, Dorothea Tanning, Remedios Varo and the Woman of Sorrows herself, Frida Kahlo. I ventured down the proverbial rabbit hole last month and found myself not as Alice with optimistic curiosity in this Wonderland, but as one with shock, sympathy and even distress. The works, all incredibly personal and often painful, look like a screen capture inside the minds of these women longing to escape their societal roles. Backed by a modest gray wall, we are confronted with issues of infertility, infidelity, molestation and abandonment. Although taboo in the moment, these issues bear unease and call for extreme sensitivity today and here they hang before us without disclaimer.

I had never before separated and examined the duality of men versus women in the Surrealist Movement, and this exhibit not only gives us a raw image of the secondary role women were plagued with, but also reminds us to continue making strides towards bringing clarity to the blurred line between personal demons and fantastical art.

The exhibit mixes all artists but separates works by crossed ropes, perhaps to signify the bounds by which these women were physically and mentally confined. Some of the artwork that struck me were by Helen Lundeberg, Dorothea Tanning, Leonora Carrington and Gertrude Abercrombie.