Juried by Wai Kit Lam
Woman Made Gallery’s 19th International Open exhibits works from female artists across the United States as well as internationally. The exhibition includes works from 35 artists in various mediums including painting, embroidery, photography, mixed media, sculpture, installation, and video.
Artists: Gabriela Agüero, Geneviève Attinger, Heather Beardsley, Ruth Burke, Sonia Cheng, Cathleen Clarke, Rumi Clinton, Gretchen Dausch, Shir Ende, Jennifer Fagan, Nancy Ferro, Gabrielle Fischer-Benitez, Gardiner Funo O’Kain, Julie Gautier-Downes, Susan Harmon, Jody Joldersma, Wen Liu, Susana Lopez F., Jennifer Lothigrel, Kelley O’Brien, Lola Ogbara, Luisa Ospina, Alex Peyton-Levine, Sarah Pfohl, Gina Robbins, Jodi Robertson, Catherine Schwalbe, Angela Swan, Pearlie Taylor, Virginia Torrence, Jesse Lee Vargas, Juliann Wang, Rosalind Weinberg, Lizzie Worthan, Xia Zhang, Jia Qi Zhen, Taylor Zitman.
Juror: Wai Kit Lamwas born in Hong Kong in 1966, graduated with an MFA from The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2003. In 1996, she received her BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her practice involves photography, video art & sound. Awards & grants: 2016: ‘El Centre d’Art i Creació de Ses Voltes’, Palma de Mallorca, Spain; 2011: ‘Fundación Valparaíso’, Mojácar, Spain; 2009: ‘Artists in the Neighbourhood Scheme IV’, Hong Kong; & ‘Visual Artist-in-Residence Programmes’, Hong Kong Arts Development Council; 2003: ‘The 8th Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Awards (IFVA)’; 2009 & 1998: ‘Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Awards’. Her works are collected by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, and private collections in UK, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Canada, America, Australia and Hong Kong.
La Tinyu (sacred chanting)
“La Tinyu (sacred chanting)”; photograph - 24 x 60 inches
Place and memory are intrinsic aspects of identity. Ontological perceptions of space embedded in cultural consciousness create pervasive specificities of time and space. These images precariously suggest narratives that aim at elucidating the disjuncture between perceptions of outdoor/indoor, nature/culture and domestic/public spaces whilst interrogating deeper (dis)connections to our environment as dark, fearful, anxious, wild or as an apostasy for the allure of the sensual. The tight coupling of images chronicle altered states in dimensions beyond the self. The figures exist in isolation and in constraint of voyeuristic windows where they are able to (sub)merge into narratives of alienation and isolation.
From the locus of the body pairing figure and landscape allow for a channel to free existential and sometimes anxious associations that seek to narrow the crumbling distance between the self and nature as a moist, dark, organic material that forms the soil where our skin could delve and eventually rest from the anxieties of selfhood. Immigrant, woman, artist, mother, latina, native, old, wise, wild, and free are stifling, dogmatic labels that limit and break. In order to transcend cultural/gender/race these images lure the viewer into meditation; to reminisce, dwell in the past, dream in darkness creating myths of the boundless realm of spirit.
“Border Control”; embroidery on paper -19 x 13 inches
I have been combining satirical maps from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with infographics of the ongoing crisis, as a lens through which to consider larger issues of nationalism and cultural identity. The original maps were created at the height of European nationalism – the decades leading up to the first World War. The maps anthropomorphize countries to reflect the tensions and stereotypes of the era. By integrating the infographics with these historical images, I am representing how the current situation is causing many of these fissures to reopen.
Embroidered objects are automatically imbued with a sense of preciousness because of the handwork and labor so clearly evidenced within them.The infographics I’ve used exist primarily online, the mediation of the screen causing them to feel somehow less substantial than their print counterparts. By overlaying these images onto the preexisting maps I imbue them with the a comparable psychological weight.
Embroidery, like maps, has a historical relationship to education in the form of samplers, which were used by schools to reinforce traditional ideals of femininity. These ideals were represented not only through the teaching of young schoolgirls to sew, but by the written content of the samplers chosen to foster female virtues. My use of embroidery recalls this relationship, creating a tension between this traditionally docile and “feminine” craft, and the male tradition of mapmaking as both an inspiration for and documentation of conquest.
“Trough”; performance (video/photo documentation)
How do we understand and relate to livestock that are typically considered commonplace, ordinary, or, “quiet (bearing the marks of the care of generations)”, as described by scholar Donna Haraway? Haraway also states, “to be kin…is to be responsible to and for each other, human and not.” Humanity is indebted to cows as we have truly experienced a “becoming with” this separate species. We exercise various degrees of care for each other while the cow continues to be an all-encompassing symbol of the benefits humans can reap from nature when it’s domesticated. Cows are an intrinsic part of what it means to be human.
My interest in working with cows stems from a profound emotional connection and engaged empathy with these sentient beings. I found my place, my home, and my chosen family at the barn. Working with livestock is a special experience where you’re expected to work hard, to adopt a physical proximity to animals and literally get dirty. This practice, like art, transcends spoken language. It’s intuition. It’s an acute way of “paying attention to” the world around you.
I engage animals in art-making as a way of reversing conventional power structures between humans and other species. Nonhuman animals are active participants and performers, sometimes even absent, but never put on as a spectacle. The work confronts uncertainty and not-knowing as I surrender complete control over the final artwork in exchange for shared authorship and social engagement.
“American HWY”; oil on canvas - 30 x 40 inches
My work explores themes of anxiety, isolation, and the esoteric and misunderstood female essence. The figures in my paintings appear isolated, sometimes dissolving into the background and becoming controlled by their surroundings. By referencing photos old and new and drawing upon my personal experience, I hope to continue these stories onto canvas – allowing the painting to recover what is often overlooked and forgotten.
Where Do I Go?
“Where Do I Go?”; stainless steel, Bristol paper, inkjet printer ink - 6 x 10 in
The public bathroom straddles the line between public and private space. In recent months it has become the subject of political controversy. For the conservatives creating this havoc, this bathroom discomfort is ultimately about a paternalistic view of sex and gender. Out of this comes the fear of young women being around penises and therefore an inability to use the bathroom safely. For me and for many of the people I know, it’s about needing to use the goddamn bathroom (and using it safely).
On a personal level, it is a difficult space. I do not question what bathroom I belong in, but I have often questioned my right to be there because of how I am perceived. As a transmasculine woman in a public bathroom I overthink. I look to others as I walk in to confirm that I have been recognized as a woman. I chose to use a condom dispenser, something available in restrooms, as a means to dispense my personal story in the larger political context of the public restroom.
Everything We See Hides Another Thing
“Everything We See Hides Another Thing”; screen prints - 11 x 14 inches
In our daily lives, we are constantly stimulated by a variety of senses— often, all at once. These senses play a prominent role in our lives in that they are how we understand and connect with things, whether that is with people or objects. Traditionally, art tends to only employ the sense of sight. As an individual who is deeply connected to the senses of scent and touch, I began to experiment with ways in which to employ these senses in my work. My work focuses on creating pieces that explore these senses in order to facilitate an impactful relationship between the pieces and the viewer.
Move/ Remove/ Place/ Displace
“Move/ Remove/ Place/ Displace”; video installation
My work considers the reconstruction of space and the construction of fluid boundaries to form a perpetual change in an environment. I was born in Israel, relocated to China, and currently reside in Chicago; I channel this personal history into my work. Utilizing video installation, sculpture and performative processes, I am interested in how one settles in a space and modifies it with the use of domestic objects to create boundaries, structures, and architecture.
In my work I created a site-specific video installation that settles and occupies its space to re-define the ways in which we experience our environment. Through video installations, the work brings the representational space to the physical space. The architecture being projected on is used to highlight and imply boundaries and lines occurring in the videos and ultimately creating new ones. Domestic objects are placed within the physical environment as a continuation of the projections and the lines that occur within them. By studying the domestic space and its formal qualities, familiar objects are being re-purposed to ask viewers to consider familiar objects in an unfamiliar way.
I look for ways in which space is divided and shared. Through my work, I attempt to intervene, adapt, and negotiate between my presence and its surroundings. The work is harmonious but never conquering; parodying but never actually occupying the role of the occupier.
Daddy Daughter Dance, 2015
“Daddy Daughter Dance, 2015”; hand-stitched archival pigment print with vellum - 17 x 22 inches
I hold less than a handful of memories of my father who abandoned me at a very young age. I hold even fewer photographs of him. Memories of my father investigates the duality of memories and photographs. How a photograph encapsulates memories and how memories reside in photographs. I am interested in how a memory of a photograph can hold more charge than the actual photograph and how they are also able to construct lies.
A fascination of both family history and the way families use photography has inspired this work. By examining the absence of my father and my mother’s lack of relationship with her father, I aim to uncover patterns of this multigenerational breaking of traditional familial structures.
I have collected other people’s memories of photographs they have with their fathers and paired these next to my own family photos. The obvious lack of men in my photos creates a dialogue with these remembered fathers. I am investigating whether being raised in an exclusively matriarchal structure has left me with a father figure-sized gap to fill and memories left unmade.
Breaking Bread, 2016
“Breaking Bread, 2016”; found wood, papers,and objects with beeswax, (pigmented and non pigmented) - 11 x 9 x 1.5 inches
The juxtaposition of the past with the present, both visual and conceptual, these are the contrasts and intersections with which I enjoy working. Part of a quotation from an Isaac Bashevis Singer novel has run through my thoughts for several years: “…patterns of continuous creation.” The ways these parts of creation affect each other are of interest and importance to me. In this series, I began working with gentrification in my mixed media works, particularly the pieces on wood. It became very personal as it morphed into adaptive reuse as it applies to the architecture/structures/land/history of our city. These works come from this project, titled “Adaptive Reuse.”
In This Hollow Valley (2016)
“In This Hollow Valley (2016)”; oil on canvas - 20 x 30 inches
“I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of
The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.”
I believe that there are unimaginable things that can exist. If we step outside of our pre-determined mindsets, everything we see and know is relative. My work focuses heavily on human beings, and the idea of our bodies existing solely as vessels, making the viewer ask, “what happens to those souls when they are separated from their vessel?” I tend to work with an earthy palette to accentuate the ties between human and nature, while my use of the paint is very visceral. My work draws influences from classic literature, pondering questions that have been asked for years upon years.
Untitled Photograph Paired with Scanned Found Slide
“Untitled Photograph Paired with Scanned Found Slide”; ink jet print - 12 x 16 inches
“Where we are going there were no lit-up houses, only dying ones.” -Eugene Richards
In any given landscape, there are moments that tell a story about the place and the men and women who dwell there. In both cities and ghost towns, there are moments of loneliness and abandonment that can be overlooked or forgotten. It is in these spaces that there is an opportunity to see and understand the world in a different way. Exploring, collecting, and photographing the world as an archaeologist or detective gives intensity to the seemingly banal and ordinary.
The absence of the human figure in my work provides a space for the viewer to project themselves into the desolate and abandoned environments that are captured. By pairing photographs of these deserted and abandoned environments with found personal items, I provide fertile ground for narratives to emerge–narratives that center around gender roles, poverty, material culture, and divorce. The items collected are items one might find in a family album or desk drawer and provides a strong connection to the missing figure.
The types of spaces that are captured range greatly from the haunted skeletal frame of a failed dream house to a forgotten city by a man-made sea with a vibrant past. The ghostly representation of the locations exposes moments of silence, sadness, and abandonment. In some cases these places are desolate due to a tragedy or economic downturn and the images and collected items speak to the way in which it happened.
After He Put His Hand on My Face
“After He Put His Hand on My Face”; mixed media on canvas - 48 x 36 inches
“My painting does not come from the easel. I hardly ever stretch my canvas before painting. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor.“ -Jackson Pollock
My work employs mixed media on paper and/or unstretched canvas– inspired by books about various topics ranging from the Lithuanian Genocide, femicides in Juarez, honor killings, girls sold into sex slavery, and the Holocaust.
“Puss Petter”; acrylic, paper on wood - 12 x 12 inches
The interplay of gender, nature, culture, and the boundaries we place upon them is the focus of my work. I create visual narratives inspired by the experience of growing up caught between a collapsing conservative steel town and the rural escapism of my grandparent’s farm in the coal mountains of central Pennsylvania. By layering distressed drawings, paint, and original photography, the construction and handcrafted quality of my work is still visible in the final image.
I am a visual artist based in Seattle, Washington. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Communication Design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. I’m an alumni of the Feminist Intensive program at Soapbox Inc. and a National Artist at A.I.R. Gallery.
Foundation / 11. 2015
“Foundation / 11. 2015”; latex, reclaimed furniture, bronze, stoo - 30 x 20 x 35 inches
My art explores the roots of my pain and feelings of estrangement growing up– questioning identities between two cultures. My generation grew up in a transitional period during 1980’s China; the effects of the second Open Door Policy invited Western culture into a traditional, conservative Eastern one. The generational gap between our parents and us children widened. We emphasized Christmas and downplayed the Lunar New Year Festival. This new confluence is all we knew. I went back and forth between my Eastern roots and Western inroad. The searching left me feeling alienated and confused. I couldn’t identify with my parents’ inability to communicate affection.
I exploit the character of my materials and become familiar with their qualities, limitations, and idiosyncrasies. Finding materials already saturated with meaning and memory is an important goal of my art-making. My work enables me to deconstruct my perception of complex interpersonal relationships and reconstruct into universal struggles and complexities.
Susana Lopez F
“Territorios, Sunday”; digital photocollage - 16.53 x 23.22 inches
A visual artist from Gijon, Spain, I have become a modern day flâneur through photography. My artistic focus explores how the surface of the photograph is a modern day canvas to capture the ‘routine’ and transform it into something exceptional. Currently, my mission is to catch the beauty of a city with each shot of my camera in a bid to capture the aspects of city life that we are all too often too busy to notice.
These pictures belong to “Territorios,” which is a photographic investigation as well as a personal reflection born through my observation of different communities coexisting in the same territory. In this project, I present my thoughts about coexistence, tolerance, respect, diversity and our need to adapt to a new culture while, at the same time, we try to preserve our origins. “Territorios” was filmed in three different cities: New York, London and San Francisco.
The Red Shoes, June 2015
“The Red Shoes, June 2015”; photography with compositing - 20 x 1 inches
I make art that rises up from the stories in my bones, muscles, and my spirit. My photography speak a deep truth, sometimes a truth I am yet to be aware of that slowly reveals its message over time. I create each photo intuitively, allowing it to unfold without controlling its direction. I believe that in this process of storytelling, the healing I experience may also connect with other women who are on a similar journey.
The Tyrant of Pontiac
“The Tyrant of Pontiac”; wheat paste, bond paper, benches, Rick Snyder - 20 mi
Architecture, individual experience, and community are the central themes of my work; more specifically, I look for the ways in which they define and influence each other. My research-based practice takes the material forms of aesthetic interventions such as: radio broadcasts, historical landmarks, personal interviews, and literal maps, which offer a glimpse into the fluid nature of personal and collective experiences.
Previous pieces have examined the effects of historical and political actions on contemporary cultural identity, while recent works are a study of the kinetic nature of architecture as a response to growing and shifting social identities. My practice is concept-driven and takes reference from documentary, performative, and installation-based art forms. The goal of my practice is to explore how cultural identity is strongly linked to and influenced by architecture and modes of place-making.
Homies 4 Lyfe
“Homies 4 Lyfe”; 35mm film, mixed media on canvas - 16 x 20 inches
As an multidisciplinary artist, I pride myself on bringing focus to human form, specifically Black bodies. Throughout my paintings and illustrations, I gravitate towards a more literal and abstract functionality of the Black female body. I explore self-identity using my own body as a source of material and am most interested in social observance, social standards, and illusion as it pertains to the body.
In my mixed media work– using using a wide range of materials (i.e. photography, botanical features, clippings, drawings, etc), I emphasize on the formality of individuals living and functioning within the city. Struggle, insecurity, fluctuation, classicism, and inequality are subliminally captured throughout many of my portraits and juxtapose life’s luxuries and life’s realities.
Gardiner Funo O'Kain
An Invitation, A Declaration, And A Warning
“An Invitation, A Declaration, And A Warning”; silkscreen (white ink on Rives BFK) - 14 x 11 inches
I am trained in a variety of mediums, but it is a love of language that provides a through line in my practice. Perhaps these works act primarily as vehicles for their titles. The works included here are part of a larger, ongoing project, The Tertium Quid Project. “Tertium quid” is Late Latin for, “some third (and unknown) thing.” The Tertium Quid Project uses quotidian mediums to investigate the non-binary nature of identity. In the case of this artist’s identity, non-binarism is most evident in mixed-race identity.
“Therapy, 2016”; collage printed on acrylic - 12 x 18 inches
As an artist and art therapist, my practices continuously inform each other. Artmaking is a vehicle for me to distill my personal experiences by providing the space to dissect, analyze, and reconstruct my understanding of them. I utilize artmaking as a way to explore the multiplicity of my identity, typically investigating issues of immigration, culture, femininity, ability, and mental health. My art practice has developed my capacity to be introspective and self-reflective. These abilities further the tact and empathy necessary to strengthen the therapeutic alliance. Similarly, my therapeutic practice expands my artistic sensibility by inspiring artwork that assists me in the processing of my experiences as a mental health clinician.
My recent collage work responds to my clients in a variety of settings. I utilize response art as a way to process, contain, and explore the difficult material that arises during sessions, as well as the feelings associated with my clinical work. The search for images and the methodical cut and paste process allows me the distance to reflect on the stories I hold. These images are transferred from a small book, enlarged, and printed on acrylic for viewing. The acrylic finish protects each image literally and metaphorically, honoring each individual story.
“Firewood, 2016”; acrylic paint and lace on wood - 77 x 16 inches
A person’s emotional state can at times be powerfully supported and enhanced by the body’s physical engagement with active thinking, such as when a person’s thoughts of determination and empowerment may be matched by their body’s physical response in elevated energy levels or confident posture.
I seek to explore this spectrum of experiences with a focus on the mind-body relationship, in order to better understand how we physically respond to emotions, language, images, and other people. By using color and light as a metaphor for thought, and structure and surface as a metaphor for the body, I aim for my works to create a visual means for reflecting on the complicated nature of our beings. I hope that these visual representations can serve to activate the viewer’s curiosity about the liaisons between their own mind and body.
Phlox, Foliage on Bank, 2016
“Phlox, Foliage on Bank, 2016”; archival inkjet print; 6.75 x 10 in image printed on 11 x 14 in paper
I work in teacher education in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, where an American Indian Boarding School operated from 1893 to 1934. Designed and funded by the U.S. government, American Indian Boarding Schools worked to systematically eradicate Native American culture from the United States. At the boarding schools imperialists executed cultural genocide and forced assimilation through the seemingly benevolent, unobjectionable vehicle of schooling. This deceit and its implications calls teachers to carefully consider the nature of the relations they cultivate in their teaching contexts and to interrogate the alignment across their words, actions, and values.
The images in this project operate as models of more equitable approaches to teaching. They foreground complexity and intricacy over direct clarity, they mash up or wipe out the anticipated singular focal point, they ask the viewer to look at and take seriously what may appear to be nothing, odd, or wonky.
I made these photographs in the public parks and forests around the site of the American Indian Boarding School in Mount Pleasant. Access to the school site is closed and the public spaces within which I photographed are the closest one can get to the school site without trespass. Drawn from a history of oppression in the name of education, I wanted the images to speak toward hope and consciousness and to embody pathways beyond the history of violence rooted in the locations of their making.
Nestled in the Kelp
“Nestled in the Kelp”; stoneware, synthetic fur - 22 x 9 x 5 inches
I create objects by intuitively manipulating clay and found materials. My hands work impulsively, driven by the medium’s inherent potential and limitations. Constructing repetitive forms, I never know precisely where the process and materials will take me. I push, pull, stack and carve in three dimensions, until something surprising almost breathes in my hands.
Found materials, discarded by civilization or nature, affect contrasts in texture and reference the tension and compromise between built and natural worlds. Although rarely representational, my forms are expressive, ultimately conveying movement, emotion and narrative. They reach out, seeking to relate to their observers, or each other. The results are objects that can be simultaneously otherworldly and viscerally familiar.
“Approach (2016)”; fabric, steel, and wood - 64 x 24 x 36 inches
My work as a sculptor revolves around the constant theme being an outsider looking in, regardless of the environment or the group within which I am interacting. My work has become an outlet as I am consistently in a quest of understanding common social interaction. I work within the realm of welding and sewing. I have found that I am intrigued by the act of the wire and thread in how it can integrate the two separate pieces into one.
Sewing Sowing (2015)
“Sewing Sowing (2015)”; stoneware, porcelain, terracotta, found objects, microgreens, detritus from past urban growing project - 4 x 12 x 4-8 inches each
My art explores aging, agriculture, nature and science, the concepts of plenty and want, reuse, food systems, water, and being human through a variety of media including high-fired clay, artist books, events, growing, installation, found objects, social practice works, fiber and cast metal.
Why corn? It is solidly Midwestern, like I am. I have found through the deep exploration of corn many things related to our food system, more than its history and imagery, but the fundamentals of humanity itself.
“The first and most respectable of the arts is agriculture.” -Rousseau
“listen”; found object sculpture - 45 x 15 x 15 inches
I created this sculpture when given an assignment to connect two objects. My photograph magnified its sensuality and power.
‘listen’ captures my desire to be known and loved. It illustrates the deep understanding needed for peace.
I use art to process emotional pain. Though my themes are dark, this practice brings about self-compassion.
In my work I confront the disconnection I fear.
I want to offer people and myself reassurance. We are not alone. We all share the experience of being human.
The search for Fertile Ground
“The search for Fertile Ground ”; acrylic on canvas - 48 x 36 inches
My process is sometimes a dramatic performance where paint is violently swept across the canvas creating provocative and energetic work. At other times, I layers colors onto the canvas until the “moment of creation” shows itself. My goal as an abstract artist is to create paintings that are interesting, provocative and beautiful, but without the appearance of deliberation, intent, or rational thought. I believe that the use of color can affect a conscious and positive change in individuals, creating a “subliminal communication.”
I am the recipient of the African American Alliance of the Arts Award for Excellence in Abstract Art. My paintings have been recognized with a third place award by The Museum of Science and Industry Black Creativity Exhibition. My works are in collections around the country and have also been published in Brides Noir Bridal Magazine, Chicago GRO Magazine, and Better Homes and Garden.
Untitled (Snake) 2016
“Untitled (Snake) 2016”; gypsum cement - 36 x 24 inches
My work begins with an intuitive action. I may start with a slab of thick clay, a wooden board, an object, and from each point of departure I search. I do not have in mind a conclusion for the piece. Instead, I work with the materials at hand, clawing, digging, adding, subtracting, finessing, until I stumble upon a form that does not cry for change. The piece may take weeks to approach this point, or a few minutes. The way I work with materials varies from a rigid violent gouging to a careful and tender licking of the fingers.
There are certain symbols, types of touch, and a personal aesthetic that emerge from this process of searching. Some reoccurring symbols within my work are hair, fabric, holes, eyes, impressions, fruit, jewelry, and flesh. All of these objects reference the body, but they are devoid of the presence which once employed them, so now point to an absence. I portray the presence of absence. The objects I use act as a metaphor for an intense desire for something lost. The way in which the imagery is rendered, from intangible abstraction, to carefully sculpted elements, to a piece that is a cast of an object itself, mirrors the way in which a memory recedes into darkness and ambiguity or how it may come into a tight and stunning focus. The process of remembering and forgetting is always in flux. Even when a presence does come close, it will skirt around the perimeter of clarity within the mind’s eye. I objectify the obscurity of fleeting memory images, creating a monument to unattainable desire for the past.
Jesse Lee Vargas
“Veils ”; archival digital print face-mounted to Plex - 13 x 19 inches
Shifting through memories, heritable experiences, I have found physical connections in material photographs to my own genetic components. The experiences of the other (of genetic familial relation) are and have become my personal physical and psychic reality. My alterations, and digitally abraded mutations of these original images become a relationship through which I discover and reaffirm my belonging to them and I to my ancestors.
This series is centered around the scientific phenomena/study of Epigenetics. The study of genetic inheritance thru DNA affected by environmental stimuli, mutated, then transferred from one generation to another. I dialogue with the study of heredity and environment, empiricism, romanticism and dualism. I investigate, what makes us who we are. Are we blank slates formed by nature or nurture, inherently good, innocent, noble, savages or mechanically driven, separated from immortal minds?
Speaking to the photograph as object, and as part of a collection used to describe the past and contextualize one’s current state of being, I present screens of reality to gaze upon or to pass through.
“And Now ”; video - sound, performance
I approach my work like a poet, finding my subject and weaving a story composed from carefully selected statements. While my work may come in many shapes and a wide range of media, the core gestures and pallets are coherent extensions of my storytelling, bound together like chapters in a novel. Whether through movement, paper forms, installations, found objects, sound/film, painting, or sculptural assemblages, the materials work in harmony to grab you like a curious child in the thrall of a fable.
The Traveller VI
“The Traveller VI ”; viscosity monotype, Japanese paper with chine colle on German etching paper - 10 x 8 inches
I have been investigating the process of viscosity monotyping in my printmaking process, using water-based inks and eco-friendly printmaking processes rather than the more traditional petroleum-based inks. Using a variety of Japanese papers– in addition to the more traditional Hannemueller and German etching papers, sometimes chine-colle-ing one upon the other, a dynamic process occurs in which the image develops as I develop my ideas. The result is more abstract than my former, more traditionally-made images, but I am excited about how they are developing as I let myself experiment and let the process dictate the outcome.
Since the images can develop from just two carved woodblocks, often using painterly effects with overlaying inked plexiglass plates, the outcome is a monotype, rather than a monoprint, as a series of developed images results.
Camp (2015 0
“Camp (2015 0”; oil on canvas - 40 x 48 inches
It was small, they were small, and fragile. I wanted to protect them from time, age, the world outside of the garden, but they had already been taken out of the box. Still curious of how it all happened, that establishment of self, the declaration stating “I’m this! Not that” with fear and fierceness, painting them blurs the edges. Looking back, them at me, me at my own, sharing the pain and enthusiasm for a future we now know… forces me to scrape things away, lay on the floor and dilute with spirits, tilting the present in all the directions our lives could have gone. We hang in the balance, taking the photo, holding who we are, hanging it on the wall so that we can step back and see. But it’s still smeared, it won’t come clean, we are not clean and pure anymore, that’s not how it works.
Brushes remind me of long hair, how many times did Marsha say we needed to brush every night? I brushed the girl’s hair, but used a knife for the doll’s. Why do I feel bad that I threw away that doll? It must be my Mom’s fault. I will put her back here, where she can live forever, my mom, the doll. I am fascinated by how we see ourselves, especially when we know we are the subject. We are ravenous consumers of images of ourselves, our peers and our idols. They are a constant evaluative tool for defining our own identities. Can I paint that?
“Shelters V”; digital print
I am a multi-disciplinary artist who works and wavers between ceramics, sculpture, photo, video, and performance to create visual representations of perceived and actual perceptions. In order to speak the truths that I know, I create work on how the world sees me and how I see my world. I waver between the representational and the abstract to convey a specific idea or experience. Having been an outsider wallflower my whole life, I spend a lot of time watching. I was transplanted from southern China at the young age of 6, grew up in suburban Maryland, and became an adult in Appalachia. Learning to make has taught me lessons on failure and being brave. It gave me a voice that I can show people.
My work is everything that I want to say, but lack the words to do so. Instead, I can speak my mind with my best set of tools, my hands. I’ve always been a fidgety person, but now I can channel that anxiousness into objects of repetition. My work varies between my personal experiences and interactions between people and places. My abstract work represents my inner self; vessel forms that are portraitures. My representational work contains objects of symbolism that conveys personal experience. I’ve had to alter my self-identity to feel safe in my environment. I hope to create a visual message to all who see my work that it all seeps through and steep within. By sharing my vulnerabilities, I aim to connect with my viewers and simultaneously induce introspection.
Jia Qi Zhen
Imprints & Devices, 2016
“Imprints & Devices, 2016”; bamboo, twine, ink, muslin, brushes, glue - installation
My works are strongly drawn from two sources: alienation and emotion. The concept is to explore more on the topic of being culturally confused. Since culture is constantly evolving and changing over time, one should at least try to find a happy medium in between the flux. I would consider myself a first generation Chinese-“American,” being brought to America at age 5. However, I am constantly surrounded by Chinese culture while trying to balance and fit into Western culture.
By utilizing an iconic material such as bamboo, I further exploit the influential views that emerge and cause confusion towards culture and identity. I explore the usage of it in my three-dimensional works and performances. In them, the forms and gestures of the works are impacted by the elements in life both externally and internally expressing a reaffirmation of a story.
“Swan Lake”; porcelain clay - 6 x 8 x 6.5 inches
My artwork focuses on the unique and whimsical aspects of the human form and life around us. Creating a narrative from an organic body and building an entirely disparate character and world based upon that body’s emotion, personality and very essence is a unified theme that I center my work around. Meant to invoke instant familiarity, my art twists the ethereal with the everyday faces we are so accustomed to seeing to breathe life into recycled stories. Inspired by strong female characters, my artwork explores the depths of hope, wonder and the idea of wanting more in a world often times stained with darkness and restriction.
‘The universe is made of stories, not atoms”, a quote by Muriel Rukeyser, is a matter that is explored in my sculpture in a very literal sense, showing that we as humans are directly woven into our stories, so much so that they become ingrained in us, and a part of our very being.
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Woman Made Gallery
2150 S. Canalport #4A-3, Chicago, IL 60608 • 312-738-0400 • Thursday–Friday: 12pm–6pm Saturday-Sunday: 12pm–4pm • Woman Made Gallery is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.