Monday, February 14, 2011

New Curatorial Project

The Hive Archive and the Hera Gallery asked me to curate a window exhibit in the University of Rhode Island Library in downtown Providence with the loose theme of feminism. The window exhibit dovetails with Hera and the Hive's retrospective show entitled Cross Currents. You can see what I came up with in the month of March, until then here is a little preview.

Politics is the art of the possible. Otto von Bismarck. 1868

Feminism is a political stance. Feminism expands what is possible. Instead of the von Bismarck quote that begins this statement, in this exhibition I am using poet, activist, and essayist Adrienne Rich concept of the Arts of the Possible. Rich believes that newness and social change are made through connective creative acts. Like Rich, I see the challenge of the von Bismarck quote to be: How do we make more things possible? In this spirit I invited artists and writers, who’s work builds new lexicons of imagery and troubles well-worn parameters. Creativity can supersede cultural conventions, but when it is really effective it expands what is possible artistically, personally and politically.

This grouping of artists and writers reveals their similarities slowly. All the artists see humans as fantastic creatures capable of dark and delicate ruminations. Each artist sees through a warped mirror. They individually build new worlds of wonder or disquieted longing. Collectively they speak of the fantastic and imagined body, as a metaphor and method to promulgate questions of gender and ethical living.

Kyla Zoe Rafert, creates odd Victorian domestic settings populated almost exclusively with pensive young women. Much like the protagonist in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's classic feminist novella the Yellow Wallpaper, they are subsumed into the domestic patterns that decorate their seemingly sedate parlors. Rafert is a consummate printmaker. Formally, her etchings highlight her dead-on draftsmanship and beauty and the eeriness of brutally made marks.

Marissa Paternoster forges dark worlds. With thousands of tiny lines she builds figures that are equal parts post-modern mannerism and cartoon nightmare. Paternoster’s work ceaselessly confronts the viewer with a pained and elusive slippery subject. Her bodies are disjointed and without firm boundaries. In her work gender becomes a horrible carnival ride where desire and etiquette reveal their disgusting and abhorrent origins.

Amy Squires
uses the body as her subject. In her site-specific installations and two-dimensional works, she takes traditional feminine tropes and inverts and celebrates them. Her work is influenced as much by minimalism as it is the Feminist Art movement of the 1970’s. Her work is inherently interdisciplinary and encompasses the contradictions of combining corporeality with immateriality.

Natalie Northrup, is devoted to the poetry of formalism. Her work is stridently handmade, revealing the labor inherent to fine art and women’s traditional handwork. Beyond that her work on paper and fabric pieces speak of brevity and abjectness in the same breath. Her roughly hewn marks refuse to be refined or controlled. Her marks read like an untidy Emily Dickenson poem. Her puckered and pulled fabric work reveals the ambiguity between preciousness and benign neglect. She finds the power of ambiguity.

Arthur Middleton
, as a writer traverses unmarked paths guided by his heart light. Though seemingly straightforward his work is not simple. He mines lost historical and imagined modern spaces to find passionate, radical, and tender domesticity. He does not write to come to terms with the world. He writes new worlds into existence.

, reclaims portraiture as a vibrant contemporary art form. His work is global. It can be found on the streets of Japan, Korea, the USA, France, China and Germany. His work humanizes and commemorates individuals moving though the global diaspora. His oversized and painstakingly drawn portraits of immigrants and other dislocated subjects are found in indistinguishable urban sprawls. His work reveals the human politics of place and displacement while meshing socially engaged street art with magical realism.

Author Joanna Ruocco and artist Sarah McDermott maintain an ongoing collaboration across disciplines and time zones. McDermott deftly draws and prints sinuous lines onto textured papers. This saturation of information, both graphic and tactile, dovetail with Roucco’s dexterous uses of language and her flexible and creative lexicon. McDermott illustrated Ruocco’s book The Mothering Coven (Ellipsis Press). Their latest joint effort is the book Compendium of Domestic Incidents. They are 2/3rds of a collective that publishes Birkensnake, an experimental fiction journal.

Delia Kovac
February 2011

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