After the fun evening modeling, I had the challenge of putting up the exhibit I had planned since January…BODIES: Art by me + Friends, at Petshop Gallery in Benson, Omaha. Not only did I mostly grow up in Omaha, but Benson First Friday was just getting started when I left, and my amazing mentor, friend and artist Wanda Ewing grew up in the neighborhood. So it was a welcome homecoming treat!
Enjoy photos of the exhibit/process throughout this post…all photos by Larry Ferguson unless otherwise noted.
I had planned and brought all my paint, robe, brushes, palette (paper plate) and install tools via airplane so I wouldn’t have to worry once I got to the gallery. I arrived about 10am, looked around, a started my plan: I’d start in the lower gallery (there’s a lower and upper), begin with blue, and paint around the rainbow–a little Every body is a body LGBTQ+ nod in there…as well as general fun, playfulness and harmony. Here’s my first few–photos by me before Larry arrived.
Wait – should I back up? Why am I body printing on the walls, anyway?
You can see the inspiration behind my original body print series and evolution of my work starting with my Voice series, through Motherhood and Feminist Tributes(and the silly breast zoo). Without getting overly in-depth for this blog post, put simply I love the expressive, abstract feminine forms the body prints create; challenging the one-dimensional body image women are supposed to subscribe to. Of course, it’s fun and I love the physicality of it, thinking of my relationship of my body to my self and sensuality of the process and outcome.
But why the walls?
I don’t like white-walled galleries.
For a long, theoretical reasoning, you can read one of my journal articles around feminist curating; my personal favorite is the short-form review of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party for Artslant.
I also don’t like other traditional installation like chronological (implies art is linear), thematic (ok, I do this at work. It definitely helps audiences…but in my independent curating I prefer more of an intuitive, challenging discussion), overly didactic or overly conceptual without context (or–a big nono–patrilineal display).
Woops–didn’t mean to go there! To be sure – of course I can like exhibits that utilize these methods, it’s just that typically, such methods (especially more than one) can relay a biased, sort of pedestal implication for what you’re looking at, exuding a privileged perspective if you will.
Most art wasn’t created in a pristine environment–when we see it in one, though, assumptions are made about its importance or lack thereof, depending on its placement and context…
So…by body printing on the walls…I’m saying…F all of that!! Art is messy, art is fun, challenging, beautiful and weird.
[Confession: I FORGOT TO WRITE AN EXHIBIT STATEMENT. Because it was an open invitational to artists I know to be amazing, I didn’t know what work was coming in. So I would have had to write it after hanging it, but I was in party mode by then. If I were writing a review of the exhibit, I’d say exactly that – yes, this is an important topic right now (bodies)…but WHY? To me, it’s duh, body autonomy for all and freedom of expression, etc., but I could get really theoretical about it, talking about each individual work…]
So after I made my rainbow across the walls, I looked at all of the amazing work from the artists that they had dropped off earlier that week (artist list below). WOW such a breadth of perspective, media (tho all 2d–my fave) and technique. From an appropriation of Chinese tantric erotic art painting, to dance photography, to line drawing and candy wrapper art…around 50 works exuded the endless ways we can think on, express and depict BODIES.
How do I decide what goes where?
My installation process is very organic and intuitive. It drives people nuts because they want to ensure everything will work out (even the gallerist said he was worried about me pulling this off, sight unseen). However, as I hang shows constantly, it has come pretty naturally.
I sort by space; I start off putting all black and white in the lower gallery, then add some to mix it up, and organize the rest by wall upstairs. I install a few (thanks Larry) and then arrange around them, and it flows.
Next: more individual notes about the work included in the show (apparently I’ve uploaded the max amount of images) and art around Omaha….
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Exhibit announcement and list: