Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Virginia Research

Why is there so much GOOD ART out there?? And how lucky am I to be able to reach so much of it that relates to and informs my work?? What a lucky girl. Aside from being able to meet up with friends and family in VA, I was able to catch two really great shows and the re-opening of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Quirk Gallery
Miel Margarita Paredes - on show until June 26th.

Thank goodness for websites and news updates! Miel Parades is one of my favorites, and thanks to her news section on her website, I knew about her new show premiering at Quirk Gallery in Richmond, VA. Since that is my hometown, I am back there often and I was able to catch the premier of her new work.

There were two distinctive sets of work shown on Miel's side of the gallery. "Gnaw" included several round, breast-like elements slightly protruding from the wall. The widest part transitioning from the wall is a sugar coated white enamel with a dark copper nipple tip on the end of each one.
Miel Parades, Gnaw, Quirk Gallery, Richmond, VA.

Upon closer inspection I was happy to discover that each of the dark tips were actually rodent snouts poking out of the wall. Each of the precisely chased elements (perhaps they were brooches, I'm not sure) were different, ranging in size from very small to dinner plate sized and I enjoyed investigating the differences in each one. In Parades's artist statement she noted her decision to integrate animals directly into architectural elements found within the design of interior spaces and notes the continuation of her attraction to hunting trophies as a marker of the hunter. I wonder if there was any decision to further push the hidden element of these objects? By that I mean, could the snouty rodent objects that were plainly mounted on a flat gray rectangle background have been mounted on a wallpaper that was a similar color or texture so the objects integrated would be hidden more within the architectural concept? Could there have been wooden or faux architectural elements in between the objects? I would have really loved to come into the gallery space with this architectural maze and had to search for the rodent objects, especially considering that historical architecture is such a big part of Richmond.

"Gnaw" detail

"Gnaw" detail

"Gnaw" detail

Of the two series of Parades's work included in the Quirk Exhibition, this was my favorite. The other series, which I believe also falls under the "Standards" umbrella as well was visually very different. Again animals are morphed into architectural elements, but this time the animals are domesticated dogs and the shaping is more wavy and flat like what would be found near a room's corner, as well the objects were all in red instead of white. All types of dogs are included in the individual objects, from beagles to greyhounds, but I found myself less interested in this part of the series.
Miel Parades "Standards"

This part of the series was less interesting to me at first because of the subject. Something about seeing a variety of domesticated dogs on the wall reminds me of the plethora of doggie merchandise that can be purchased to fit the perspective owner's doggie taste. I wondered if this part of the show is Parades's attempt to have work included that would potentially sell? I also have to say that is what I initially thought, and after reading in her artist statement I was happy to read that she is purposefully referencing these doggie products. Also important to Parades is to highlight the protective role that these objects play inside the home.

Overall I was happy to see Miel's new work! I've been waiting for years for the follow up to her rock star MFA show out of UW-Madison and I will continue to watch her work as she develops.

Anderson Gallery
Social Skin - on exhibit until August 1st
Photographs by Lalla Essaydi - on exhibit until August 1st

I don't have any of my notes in front of me, so I may have to come back to this but I will try to wing it. Arg!

Social Skin
This show deals specifically with the body and how out bodies are marked culturally. Whether race, social status, gender or class this comprehensive 2 level show touched on many ways in which our skin is marked. I was initially excited to see this show because I know so many people included in the show! My good friend Erin Colleen Williams has two pieces in the show that she made while at VCU as well as two of my closest mentors, Susie Ganch and Sonya Clark have work included in the show. I was also surprised to see a black paper silhouette drawing from my racy gal Kara Walker (I don't know her personally, but I just adore her work), some very interesting ancient artifacts relating to the body as well as video work from Elizabeth King. And you can't do much better than FREE! If you are in town, please check it out, it will be up all summer, just make sure to note their summer hours, as they are different than the hours noted on their website.

Photographs by Lalla Essaydi
This show was a very lovely surprise. Lalla Essaydi is a New York based, Morocan born photographer, painter and installation artist dealing with the issue of being female as well as her cultural identity. What an excellent show for me! Another very large part of her work is language, specifically text. Essaydi employs sacred Islamic writing and covers her women and the environment with this text, even though the use of this text is traditionally reserved only for men. The women and objects included in her photographs exist in an isolated domestic space reserved for punishment where women were sent, however could not speak and we not spoken to. By covering the women and environment with this text, the woman are performing a political act of speaking while continuing to emphasize their decorative role. Essaydi's photographs are striking, and for me the use of text in these photographs is absolutely essential. Making me rethink the potency of text in artwork.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts ReOPENs!!
Oh my goodness. What a beautiful new setup they have. Much of the work is the same, and even though they have just reopened not all of the rooms are open yet. I'm waiting for a new exciting exhibition when everything has reopened in a year or so.

On my ongoing quest to find "samples" here a few elements I really liked:

That's all for now!

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