Color and class are still the great divides in American culture, and few artists have surveyed them as subtly and incisively as Carrie Mae Weems, whose traveling 30-year retrospective has arrived at the Guggenheim Museum. From its early candid family photographs, through series of pictures that track the Africa in African-America, to work that explores, over decades, what it means to be black, female and in charge of your life, it’s a ripe, questioning and beautiful show. Read More
Carrie Mae Weems is finally getting the star treatment that has largely eluded her during her career.
The artist's first New York museum retrospective opens Friday at the Guggenheim. " Carrie Mae Weems : Three Decades of Photography and Video" examines race, class and gender with work that includes posed domestic scenes, historic re-enactments and pieces using appropriated objects.
The exhibition is the latest in a spate of honors for Ms. Weems. In September, the MacArthur Foundation awarded her a "genius grant" worth $625,000—a moment she celebrated by donning a tiara, evening gown and fake jewels. Next month, she will join Aretha Franklin among the artists celebrated at the annual BET Honors, established by BET Networks, news she greeted with a near swoon. Read More
Exhibitions: Julia Fullerton-Batten's "A Testament to Love"
By David Schonauer
We recently took note of photographer (and PPD reader) Julia Fullerton-Batten’s series Korea 2013, Now we feature her new series, A Testament to Love, on view at the Jenkins Johnson Gallery in New York City through February 15. Building on her earlier work investigating the psyches of teenage girls, “Testament” narrates the life struggles that occur when love goes wrong, featuring women wrestling with the eternal search for happiness amid feelings of solitude, loneliness, fear, regret, and resignation. Fullerton-Batten says the work is visually inspired by Hollywood films of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as by the paintings of Edward Hopper. Read More
"A Testament to Love’ is a narrative about the struggles of life when love goes wrong. The women in my images wrestle with the eternal search for a happy ending, but find themselves left with feelings of solitude, loneliness, fear, regret and resignation. Are they searching for a meaning to their lives or just waiting for something to happen. Each image is set against a cinematic background, which is inspired by the style of locations and lighting in Hollywood films from the 1960s and 1970s as well as the iconic work of Edward Hopper." Read More
Middle Eastern women, supposedly powerless and oppressed behind walls and veils, are in fact a force in both society and the arts. They played a major role in the Arab Spring and continue to do so in the flourishing regional art scene—specifically in photography—which is alive and very well indeed. Some Middle Eastern photographers have taken their cameras to the barricades, physical ones and those less obvious, like the barriers erected by stereotypes, which they remain determined to defy. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, takes note in “She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World,” an ambitious and revealing exhibition of work by 12 women, some internationally known.
The curator, Kristen Gresh, says in the catalog that this show, which runs through Jan. 12, was intended to explore “the dualities of the visible and invisible, the permissible and forbidden, the spoken and the silent, and the prosaic and the horrific.” These approximately 100 photographs and two videos generally respond to that intention and open a wide window on what preoccupies women in regions that are read about here more often in news articles about riots and refugees. At times, the ideas in this show count more than the images, which range in quality from remarkable and convincing to the merely derivative in some cases. Read More
A Show of Strength by Middle Eastern Women Photographers
By KERRI MACDONALD
“She Who Tells a Story” opens at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston this week. Four of the artists included are Iranian; three — Ms. Tavakolian, Gohar Dashti and Shadi Ghadirian — live and work in Iran today. The exhibit also highlights work by Jananne Al-Ani, Boushra Almutawakel, Rana El Nemr, Lalla Essaydi, Tanya Habjouqa, Rula Halawani, Nermine Hammam, Rania Matar and Shirin Neshat, the fourth Iranian artist, who lives in New York. Read More
"Lalla Essaydi: New Beauty"
n the 19th century, Orientalist painters were widely celebrated in Europe for their vivid depictions of Muslim women in sexualized states of undress. These exoticized images are still prevalent, which is one reason why Lalla Essaydi's modern photos of beautiful women posing in intimate Islamic settings are so provocative. Essaydi's women are surrounded by Islamic calligraphy and, in some new works, by bullet casings that at first glance seem like jewels. By disrupting stereotypes, Essaydi's images are a 21st century bookend to outdated exoticism. Read More
Making Cutting-Edge Art with Ballpoint Pens
By Trent Morse
Last August, Toyin Odutola
brought a stack of ballpoint pens and markers into the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, sat down, and drew a picture. A large screen projected her progress as she filled the paper with thousands of marks. Museumgoers circled around her and asked her questions. “One lady was like, ‘Is that pen? I don’t believe it!’” Odutola recalls. “I was drawing, and she took the pen out of my hand and looked at it.”
To shut out these kinds of distractions and focus on the task at hand, Odutola put on headphones and listened to dance music. Four hours after she started drawing, she was done, having produced a densely limned portrait of an Asian woman with golden hair and eyebrows, her skin composed of Odutola’s signature sinewy ballpoint lines, with blue, green, and flesh tones rising from underneath. “It was shocking that I finished, because I’d never really performed
drawing,” says Odutola, who was born in Nigeria and grew up in the Bay Area and Alabama. “It’s normally a very solitary act within my studio.” Read More
Williamson Gallery, Art Center / Los Angeles
by John David O’Brien
The art of Lynn Aldrich celebrates and extrapolates on the ordinary. She focuses on objects from the world of everyday life to both transform them structurally and insinuate a sense of larger mysteries. She takes utensils and garden-variety household items and through both imaginative additions and deviations from function turns them into vehicles of greater significance. Aldrich veers into the transcendental without any irony and draws out the quotidian into an expansive field of multiple meanings.
While some artists transform found objects through more theatrical arrangements, Aldrich stays close to her source. She wants to reference the object as something we use (and often it is in direct relationship to a woman’s work in the household) as well as look for epiphanies in the ordinary. She is interested in how commonplace things and situations contain the potential for transcendence, and thus she sets her art apart from both the formal bent of minimalism and the self-reflexive penchant of appropriation. Read More
Lynn Aldrich: "Un/Common Objects" at Williamson Gallery, Art Center College of Design
by Christopher Michno
On cursory glance, Lynn Aldrich's sculptural objects share some of Pop Art's fascination with consumer goods: an array of wax paper cartons, a shelf crammed with canned food tins, a surfeit of garden hose. And the title of Aldrich's 23-year survey, co-curated by James Daichendt and Christina Valentine, seems to allude to "New Painting of Common Objects," Walter Hopps' seminal 1962 show at the Pasadena Art Museum, which lent critical support to Pop Art. Yet, while Aldrich constructs her sculpture using common objects and construction materials, home improvement supplies, and other domestic items--her survey observes the artist playfully transforming the stuff of everyday life into elegantly poetic meditations. Aldrich keenly subverts the intended functions of domestic objects, and crystallizes the effect with language. Pithy titles, like The Birds of America (1993), a work of collected feathers stuffed into a brass cage and suspended from the ceiling, can elevate the object, casting it in a momentous light. In Pressed for Time (1994), an ironing board loaded with layers of pressed flowers separated by sheets of wax paper introduces a play on words and offers a reminder of the withered future we face in common. Read More
"Seven Sisters" at Jenkins Johnson Gallery
by Barbara Morris
Presenting a welcome change from the stale atmosphere of the boys club, Jenkins Johnson Gallery recently presented "Seven Sisters," a group show where powerful women artists from ethnically diverse backgrounds shared images of passion, remembrance and caution. The title is drawn from the star cluster The Pleiades, also known as Seven Sisters, which represents in Greek myth the daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Read More