For Soho20’s National Affiliate Artists, the moment to be confronted is always now and always new. Fifteen artists from eight states engage with feminist issues, formal/aesthetic values, and individual artistic growth through their work. The annual group exhibition draws together conceptual and interdisciplinary experimentation, non-traditional forms and materials, sociological observation, and political engagement. The works span mixed-media assemblages and painted reliefs, woven constructions in newspaper and encaustic, crocheted fiber abstractions, video-installation, artists’ books and works on paper, as well as miniature environments in bronze. Other artists critique stereotyped representations of the female form, identity, and sexuality through oversize clay busts, oil painting/collage, and sensual prints employing resurrected photographic technologies. Political and personal content addresses war, genocide, immigration and colonialism, the sensually charged body, family, aging, and loss.
National Affiliate artists have followed career paths as university professors, curators, writers, poets, and arts activists. They are united in exploring new forms and strategies for understanding female experience and generating dialogue.
ARTISTS AND THEIR ART
B. Amore (Vermont) shows small to mid-sized mixed-media sculptures and wall-reliefs employing street-found paper and gloves as symbols of both the private and interpersonal experience of immigration. Evolving from carved forms to complex installations involving text, ancestral artifacts, alternative photo processes, stone, fabric, and the found object transformed, Amore’s installations and sculptural ruminations bridge the past and the present. www.bamore.com
Karen Baldner’s (Indiana) drawings “The presence of Your Absence” are a combination of ink pen, charcoal line drawings, washes and photo copy transfers on handmade paper with embedded horsehair. The fluid surfaces allow the images room to shift as they explore the space between absence and presence of an experience of potential and suspense. www.karenbaldner.com
Fran Bull (Vermont) presents large-scale reliefs of muslin, Italian plaster, and Styrofoam from her “Dark Matter” series. Moved by the mystery of invisible underpinnings to the universe and borrowing from Classical and Renaissance traditions, Bull references the human body through the illusion of fabric draped over flesh. www.franbull.com
Deb Clem (Indiana), who identifies herself as feminist, liberal, and lesbian, makes it her life’s work to restore these images to our cultural conscience. Clem paints non-traditional portrayals of women, combining photographic emulsion and digital printing on canvas with traditional techniques of oil and acrylic painting in order to present the female image as subject, not object. Also often introducing objects to her canvases, Clem’s transparent oil glazes allow the image underneath to show through while opaque paint obscure other areas of the image, resulting in a complex relation of her subjects to their environment. http://homepages.ius.edu/dclem/artist.htm
Laura Cloud (Michigan) creates installations involving large sculptural forms and multiple sensory pathways that include sound, smell, and the poetry, voices, words, and cultural records of others. Her interdisciplinary structures play with and deconstruct cultural traditions, stereotypes, and mythologies, including her own personal myth of identification with the name “Cloud.” www.art.msu.edu/?page_id=106
Louise Farrell (Massachusetts) often works site-responsively, seamlessly combining common and theatrical materials to simulate naturalistic forms in unnatural arrangements. She says of her current series of wall hangings woven of rope and newspapers. “While my focus is on process, the use of stained newspapers shows that beauty can be the result of recycling.” www.studioswithoutwalls.org.
Sculptor Gail Hoffman’s (New York) miniature bronze cityscapes and video installations based on lost-wax castings from toys and make-believe environments invent problematic communities where the viewer can become lost in the work. http://soho20gallery.com/New/artist_pages/GhoffmanBio.html
Elizabeth Michelman’s (Massachusetts) installations and video explore the subjective experience of time by mixing elements of language, music, found objects, architecture, and drawing. Juxtaposing the curves of broken marble mantelpieces with a metronome, her installation “Accompaniment” evokes the human form and its vibrations as a source of music and interpersonal connection. www.elizabethmichelman.com www.wmaastudios.org www.studioswithoutwalls.org
Guest artist Barbara Rehg (Georgia) exhibits “Vessel,” a large-scale 2-D mixed-media work using charcoal, watercolor, colored pencil, paper collage, wire, string, and foam tiles. In this work seeking to visualize the constant necessity of change, Rehg proposes that the mind is an ever-expanding vessel, meant to hold all the complex experiences a person brings into her life. www.masonmurer.com/artist/rehg_barbara.htm
Ann Rowles (Georgia) crochets site-adaptable hanging abstractions of mixed fibers, vinyl tubing, and wire. “Spew” and “Squeeze” are forms related to the aging process, relics of time spent caring for her elderly mother who suffers from dementia. Rowles’s non-traditional sculptural practice appropriates and elaborates on her great-grandmother’s expressive craft. Her work offers a survival mechanism to retain sanity in the midst of decline and decay. www.annrowles.com
Georgia Strange (Georgia) generates vivid surrealistic gestures by combining over-sized clay body-parts and polychromed imaginary heads with expressive steel armatures. http://www.art.uga.edu/people.php?id=5024&dt=p
Rosie G. Thompson (North Carolina) shows recent work from her 2011 “Witness Series” of five human-sized, figurative missed-media and wood constructions. Her voiceless, innocent witnesses in environments reflecting global happenings are interconnected and timeless. www.tristatesculptors.org www.frankisart.com
Virginia Tyler’s (North Carolina) photo/sculptural installation attacks child labor. It explores the effect a 10-hour day of breaking rocks has on the mind and spirit of a 14-year-old girl in Ghana. Tyler also uses her art to economically empower the local village culture: she ahs collaborated with workers in a Ghanaian foundry, designing small bronzes of western gadgetry for an American market while returning the profits to the African makers. http://soho20gallery.com/New/artist_pages/tylerBio.html
Kalamazoo, MI photographer Mary Whalen embraces the romance of the human subject. Rejecting the compulsion of the multiple, Whalen employs antiquated photographic processes to produce unique prints. Her atmospheric studies of athletic competitors under stress are both intimate and subtly erotic. www.marywhalen.com
Eve Whitaker’s (Texas) large expressive figure drawings (several of which are included in the traveling exhibition “The Veil: Visible and Invisible Spaces”) project “inescapable presence.” Their highly worked surfaces reflect the difficult process of loss and responsibility for an aging and disintegrating parent. Her “doll” sculptures, of wood, carved plaster, and textiles, are haunting yet playful, intended to be held and moved about. The current series of dolls began with a glimpse of Susan Hilferty’s designs for the Queen in “Wonderland.” www.evewhitaker.com www.buttonpettergallery.com