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Never Has She Ever…
October 13, 2008 - October 30, 2008
Mason Gross Galleries at Rutgers University is pleased to present Never Has She Ever… an exhibition curated by LaToya Ruby Frazier, featuring 10 women artists re-representing the female gaze and figure, twisting and challenging internalized notions of beauty and womanhood. This intergenerational exhibit brings together artists working in diverse media and techniques: photography, painting, drawing, installation, film and video.
The Female Gaze is a critical feminist discourse contesting the sexually objectified female figure and her role, discussed by feminist film critic, Laura Mulvey, in her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” and feminist theorist, bell hooks, in her essay “The Oppositional Gaze: The Black Female Spectators.” Both Mulvey and hooks scrutinize the voyeuristic, psychosexual, visual pleasures of the male gaze. hooks further complicates the Female Gaze by citing the absence of the black female entirely on the screen or in the audience. Once one has internalized, read and understand feminist objection to the dominant male gaze imposed upon women in visual culture, the only thing left is to witness the Female impersonate Female. Through her new role and figure never has she ever looked better.
Susanna Coffey “You might say that painting is a signifier for beauty itself, and the realm of the aesthetic. The subject of “feminine appearance” has also to do with categories of beauty and aesthetics. So I feel that these two things – painting and representations of women – are important to one another, and for me are worthy of a lifetime’s investigation.” Susanna Coffey functions as the foreground and background of the human psyche camouflaging her face with current global war reportage. Never has the female portrait / self portrait depict such pain and agony inside and outside the mind, body and spirit since Frida Kahlo. Coffey teaches painting at Yale School of Art and served as the resident faculty at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2007.
Renée Cox is one of the most controversial African- American artists working today. She often uses her own body clothed or nude to celebrate black womanhood and criticize a society she often views as racist and sexist. When Yo Mamma’s Last Supper was shown at the Brooklyn Museum in New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani wanted it removed and created a commission to restrict such works supported by public funds. Cox has been invited as the Estelle Lebowitz lecturer and artist-in- residence for the Institute for Women and Art at Rutgers.
Lauren Kelley describes herself as a “thirtysomething adult still invested in toys.” Kelley uses Barbie dolls to symbolize everything that is wrong with society’s image of women. Utilizing claymation and stop animation she fabricates elaborate props and scenes at 5 frames per second to underscore the tension in her characters who are close to the edge. The fictions between her Barbie dolls and real social issues in the psyche of black women are blurred as she samples voices of friends and family members for her Barbie’s voice over. Kelley’s video, Big Gurl, led to her prize as one of four emerging artists to receive an Altoid Award 2008 at the New Museum. She teaches and is the director of the gallery at Prairie View A&M, Texas.
Hanneline Rogeberg’s paintings dismisses the limited binary female/male gaze by blending a hybrid of female-to -female, male-to male intimate figures morphing and touching, heightening all human sensory modes. “The body as well as the skin will hold the history of its experience,” says Hanneline Rogeberg. The artist teaches at Rutgers University in the Department of Visual Arts. She has also taught at the University of Washington, Cooper Union and Yale School of Art.
Cauleen Smith “I carry locations, figures, celluloid, around in test tubes waiting for the opportunity to conduct time- based experiments.” Smith’s films ask questions about what it means to be a person in a world that compartmentalizes humanity into modules of race, gender and class. In her film, Family Photo, designed after Malian photographer Seydou Keita, characters in the image are six avatars displaced and lonely seeking communication with the beloved. Smith received a Creative Capital Grant to travel to Lagos, Nigeria, to produce her next feature length film. Cauleen Smith’s short films are distributed by Canyon Cinema. Her feature length film is available for rental exclusively at Hollywood Video stores nationwide.
Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum is the ultimate nomadic woman. The artist creates drawings and animations of the accumulated self through human traces that connect us to places, landscapes and other bodies. The universal experience of travel and migrating shape-shifts her body and transnational identity, imprinting her body’s residue as work on paper. “This idea of the simultaneous self or the multiplied self often surfaces in my work as ritual, play or repetition.” Sunstrum teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Shanell Betts, Donna R. Brown, Jamie Bruno, and Priya Nadkarni are the featured artists in the Mason Gross Gallery Project Space.
The exhibition is funded by the Department of Visual Arts, Institute for Women and Art, Office of the Associate Vice- President for Academic and Public Partnerships in the Arts and Humanities, and the Office of the Dean/Mason Gross School of the Arts.
This exhibition is part of the IWA Exhibition Series.
The Institute for Women and Art welcomes all visitors with disabilities. Please contact the IWA for further details and information regarding accommodation of specific needs at: womenart.rutgers.edu or 732-932-3726.