Repartee Feministique at The Bromfield
Thursday last, I went to Boston for a doctor’s appointment and then stopped by the Bromfield Gallery to see the current show I am in called, “A Woman’s Place”. I couldn’t properly see the work in the show at the opening reception because it was so mobbed. With people. Not houseplants.
From the show announcement: “Although the title phrase may still conjure up images of domesticity, this exhibition provides an antidote through artworks that inhabit and comment on self-imposed limitations.”
From the curatorial statement by Kathy Halamka: “a phrase that prior to 1970’s feminism, and perhaps even today, conjures up images of domesticity and of a time when women were expected to only inhabit a limited sphere. This exhibit proves the antithesis of that belief by inhabiting and commenting on a number of realms where their only restrictions are self-imposed.”
Image by Mary Nelen
Artists have long addressed concepts or themes or politics or plights and the like. Being a group of artists together in a show spurred a lot of discussion amongst us regarding the theme of this show. Feminism has been done and is being done and will be done, as in thine will be done, perhaps. Until the sexes merge into one asexual being, there will be differences in the world that occur along gender lines. For those of us in this show, or maybe for this show, that will is/was to create work that addresses this particular theme and not still life or politics or landscape.
Like race, gender is defining and is a perspective on the world and resonates throughout our lives as a this or a that. Looking out from the vantage point of my sex is inevitably going to differ from looking out from a male vantage point. I cannot know what it is like to be a man. I cannot know what it is like to be of another race. I cannot know what it is like to be a house plant. But as long as art and literature are created and shared from that of other vantage points, I can be better equipped in an ongoing effort to comprehend and empathize with the world and my fellow everythings such as said human beings and houseplants (although I know of no works by houseplants and would love some insight on that).
These varying perspectives are of interest to me, as a student in said life. The role of women is clearly of interest to me as illustrated by my work with domestic objects and the masculine influences and applications that enable them, and because oddly enough, I identify with women. One show, one exhibit, one short story or poem, one novel, will not change the world or the people in it. By way of the multitudes and prevalence of such, we can continue to learn and comprehend, simply for the sake of understanding – that would be enough for me. I am not a “feminazi”, I am just a woman. I am ok with being a woman. I quite like it.
I do, however and admittedly, encounter some differences here and there which are influenced by and based on gender roles and perceptions – past and present, and notice how things subsequently go down as I navigate the world. I am not bitter about that. It just is. There are the perks as well. I do find this all very fascinating. Should women move on from addressing the issue of gender? Should people of other races and ethnicities and political views move on? I humbly think perhaps maybe not, and my houseplants seem to agree, as does my therapist. History is important and rife with useful information, for history has the effect and consequence of things, the present does not always have that yet. Am I making any sense, I ask my self (hourly)? If we all understood each other better perhaps there’d be more hilarity ensuing.
Image by Mary Nelen
So, moving on, The closing reception for this show is Saturday, August 23 from 3-5 PM. There will be a gallery talk and poetry reading beginning at 4. So come at 3 if you want to chat and mingle (it’s ok to be on time, in some cultures it’s considered highly fashionable, but don’t ask me which ones because I haven’t made up all the details of these self-serving and make believe cultures yet), and bring your shush-able listening ability at 4 to be entertained and enlightened by Valerie Spain.
There is beautiful and thought-provoking work in the show and some of the artists have given me permission to post their work and words here as there has been that enlightening conversation amongst the artists on the discussion list. And so my will is to share the words and work below.
Liz Pozen, Being a Wife and Mother
LaDawna Whiteside, I Shall Not Want
Jeanne Williamson, Skeletal Fence Series
Comments about the conceptual intent of the exhibit and the work, and more images…
“If women’s issues are still relevant, than why not focus on them? Why not devote an exhibit to them? Yes, they were addressed in the past and have been addressed over the past 20 years (because they were and are still relevant!) – our exhibit addresses them now, where we are at now. And those very images that are most “redundant” show how very relevant women’s issues still are… Some things haven’t changed – not even in the enlightened West.”
~Heather Meri Stewart
Images on my screen, 2007-2008, Chantal Zakari
Lyla Buyaro, Pretty jew, Dirty Jew
The “Pretty Jew, Dirty Jew” Series uses color, text and the Star of David to illustrate how being a Jew, even a pretty Jew, still has looming negative implications in our modern highly prejudiced culture. While the tone of the text presents as anti-Semitic initially, the words have mixed messages. The series is as much about an intense, and somewhat destructive attraction to beauty as it is about any religious identity, racial stereotype or gender bias.
Although self-identity may seem to coincide with a particular human being, identities are actually much wider than that – they are also collective – identities extend to countries and ethnic communities. An interesting thing about identities is that they work in a couple of directions. ~ Lyza Bayard
“Apparently there are many of us that still confront issues about what “A Woman’s Place” is. With current events worldwide as they are, victimization and struggles as they have been for years, it’s still a vital topic and a serious concern. Most women as they maneuver through their life, grapple with their role and their place at various points, if not continually throughout their growth and maturation. Those of us who are honest about it and fortunate to be able to express ourselves, know it well.
It’s been a great opportunity to have such a vital discussion initiated and maintained amongst this diverse group of women artists, many of whom don’t know each other, all currently sharing the walls at Bromfield Gallery. I met only one of you before this show and didn’t even know she was an artist. When dropping off my paintings, I saw several of the artists coming in and out as well. I noticed our different ages, styles, races and religions. I also noticed that every single piece in the show was well-executed and professional. And, I saw how hard Kathy the curator was working to give each artist good representation of their art. This level of commitment and respect alone is welcoming. ”
I sketched and thought about this female form for many years but in the summer of 2006 I focused on it.
The figures–armless, sometimes eye-less, often big hipped and full-breasted with electrified strands of hair–appeared again and again when I allowed myself to draw spontaneously. It was an intense and powerful experience to draw and finally exhibit these figures.
Initially they stood alone, but I soon began drawing and painting them with or over printed text sometimes taken from Catholic devotional books and the Bible, written in English and Latin. I’m interested in Latin as the basis of my own language but also as the language of faith.
The series is concerned with the juxtaposition of reality and stated ideals or dogma; it is concerned with how the religious veneration–particularly in Catholicism–of saints and martyrs, conflicts with the reality of how real women are treated, women who are supposedly the mortal representation of this feminine ideal. The sharp, graphic, contained but energetic figures both illustrate the words as well as act against them. The figures strive to break bonds and boundaries. They are still potent despite their restrictions, or because of them.
I did not intend to draw “traditional goddess” images but I’m aware how closely they resemble ancient figurative art. I compulsively drew – literally and figuratively – these forms from a powerful unconscious place. I’m an avid reader of myths, faery tales and legends, and at 53, the feminist movement has contributed to my personal and artistic growth. I’m sure my figures spring from these influences and from others I’m not even aware of.
(who will be speaking at the closing reception)
Cheryl Murphy, She Is
“She Is” began in 2005. my idea was to create a portrait of women by filling the cups of bras with the artifacts of our life. I hand stitched netting over the cups to keep the items in place, this method of securing the items seemed more directly associated with how a bra is constructed.
This project soon became a community effort, as women not only donated bras and items but ideas. I feel as though they are giving me pieces of their lives. I have learned that there is little to nothing to indicate race but much to indicate life choices, interests and personal experience.
There are serious issues like the breast cancer bra and the bra cut in half by an emergency team, marriage and mother hood and whimsical bras like the chocolate bra.
Viewed together though it is apparent that we are many things. I took away the sense that i was more than I realized, i am many things and ever changing and i am connected to the infinate because “She Is”.