The story is almost too terrible to believe. In 1956, Velma Orlikow, the grandmother of Canadian artist Sarah Anne Johnson, entered a mental hospital in Montreal to be treated for postpartum depression. Instead, she suffered torture at the hands of her doctor, who worked for a CIA-funded program exploring new methods for mind control. At the center of Johnson’s third solo exhibition, House on Fire, which includes sculptures, paintings, and photography, is a large, elaborate three-story dollhouse that she built by hand. Outside, the house looks normal, but inside, it is full of surreal scenes and dark figurines that evoke her grandmother’s nightmare. It’s haunting, disturbing, and downright brilliant.

Sept. 23-Nov. 17, 2009

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