The Esoteric Legacy of Counterculture Icon and Occultist Marjorie Cameron, the ‘Cinderella of the Wastelands’

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Last summer, we honored the work of female occultists. Despite their visionary contributions, the women were often regarded as mere muse to male practitioners through the ages or wholly insane. But a long overdue retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) brought attention to the work of one essential figure, Marjorie Cameron.

Revered as a counterculture icon and influential creator during the postwar Los Angeles art scene, Cameron’s work drew from a mystical realm that Jack Parsons, her occultist and chemist husband, believed Cameron sprung from herself, embodying the Thelemite goddess Babalon here on Earth.

A new exhibition — an expanded version of the MOCA show — presents newly rediscovered artworks, writings, and ephemera. Cameron: Cinderella of the Wastelands honors the legendary artist, featured in the former Deitch Projects space at 76 Grand Street through October 17. Cameron’s surrealist, esoteric legacy is explored as well as her connections to other California luminaries such as Kenneth Anger (she starred in the filmmaker’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome), Wallace Berman (he featured her on the cover of Semina, his artistic and literary journal), and George Herms.

See a preview of Cameron: Cinderella of the Wastelands in our gallery.

Courtesy of the Cameron Parsons Foundation and Nicole Klagsbrun

Walking Bird n.d. ink and watercolor on paper 14 x 11 inches (image) 35.6 x 27.9 centimeters

Courtesy of the Cameron Parsons Foundation and Nicole Klagsbrun

Holy Guardian Angel according to Aleister Crowley 1966 casein and gold lacquer on board 29.5 x 19.25 inches

Courtesy of the Cameron Parsons Foundation and Nicole Klagsbrun

Peyote Vision 1955 Ink, paint on paper 17 1/2 x 22 3/4 inches

Courtesy of the Cameron Parsons Foundation and Nicole Klagsbrun

Hekas Hekas (dancing pair) n.d. ink and gouache on paper 14 x 12 inches

Courtesy of the Cameron Parsons Foundation and Nicole Klagsbrun

Black Egg n.d paint on cardboard 11 x 8 inches

Courtesy of the Cameron Parsons Foundation and Nicole Klagsbrun

Untitled n.d Cut paper on board 12.75 x 7.5 inches

Courtesy of the Cameron Parsons Foundation and Nicole Klagsbrun

Alien Assemblage n.d. Mixed media 13 1/4 x 13 1/4 inches

Courtesy of the Cameron Parsons Foundation and Nicole Klagsbrun

Sphinx n.d. Ink on paper 23 1⁄2 x 34 inches

Courtesy of the Cameron Parsons Foundation and Nicole Klagsbrun

Fossil of Raven, 1958 White ink on paper 18 3/8 x 11 1/2 inches