Karen Mahaffy’s digital video and cut paper Window Works piece at Artpace, entitled “any given moment” (which was only up until November 30, sadly), reflected preoccupations that we think of as particularly, recognizably Mahaffian: graceful patterns tightly controlled in lyric and decorative repitition; an intimation of the secret rigors of femininity hiding behind a stylized outward structure. Mahaffy alludes both to the visual patterns inherent in nature and to its uses, with her sly nod to gender — a bit like Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” made densely graphic.
“Maybe I’m getting a little too tightly controlled,” she muses. So the artist and Palo Alto prof is taking off for weirder climes — Tallinn, Estonia, to be exact, having won her second Fulbright grant (her first, in 2004, sent her to China). She leaves right after the New Year, and will return just before July. Why Estonia? “It was the most far-out place they had `on the Fulbright list`,” she laughs. She’s looking forward to being transported, disoriented, shaken up a little. The Current can’t wait to see what she does next.