Monthly Archives: September 2013

Female Gaze Friday: Amy Sherald

Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).

Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!

This week’s works are The Rabbit in the Hat, Pony Boy, and High Yella Masterpiece: We Ain’t No Cotton Pickin’ Negroes by painter Amy Sherald:

Amy Sherald, The Rabbit in the Hat, 2009, oil on canvas, 54"x43"

Amy Sherald, The Rabbit in the Hat, 2009, oil on canvas, 54″x43″

Amy Sherald, Pony Boy, 2008, oil on canvas, 54"x43"

Amy Sherald, Pony Boy, 2008, oil on canvas, 54″x43″

Amy Sherald, High Yella Masterpiece: We Ain't No Cotton Pickin' Negroes, 2011, oil on canvas, 59"x69"

Amy Sherald, High Yella Masterpiece: We Ain’t No Cotton Pickin’ Negroes, 2011, oil on canvas, 59″x69″

Amy Sherald’s paints portraits of black men and women in which she removes all color from their skin. In Sherald’s words,  her work “began as an exploration to exclude the idea of color as race from my paintings by removing “color” but still portraying racialised bodies as objects to be viewed through portraiture”. Her figures started out with fairytale-like details which constructed an alternate version of black history. From there, her work evolved to place black figures in environments like circuses, which more directly called out themes of blackness and racialisation.

Sherald’s work focuses on self-identity and constructed identities. She draws from her own experiences as one of the few black children in her private schools and how her identity was formed by those experiences.

I saw one of Sherald’s paintings at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and was struck by the sparing use of color and the flatness of certain portions of her paintings. If you ever have the chance to see her work, go! Her paintings are even more striking in person.

You can see more of Amy Sherald’s work here.

Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments!

Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: Sasha Panyuta’s Bryan.

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Female Gaze Friday: Sasha Panyuta’s “Bryan”

Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).

Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!

This week’s paintings are Brian and Steve by Sasha Panyuta:

Sasha Panyuta, Brian, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 48"x60"

Sasha Panyuta, Brian, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 48″x60″

Sasha Panyuta, Steve, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 48"x60"

Sasha Panyuta, Steve, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 48″x60″

Panyuta is a Russia-born artist who lives and works in New York City. She creates acrylic works that are full of bright, unblended colors with figures against simple backgrounds. Panyuta’s portrait of Brian is interesting, in that it is part of a group of works depicting multimedia artist Brian Kenny. Kenny has a collection of portraits of him from fellow artists (that you can see here).

I first saw Panyuta’s paintings at 100 Artists Book (100 artists of the male figure). You can see Panyuta’s work on her site, and an interview here

Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments.

Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: Elise Graham’s Untitled.

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Female Gaze Friday: Elise Graham’s “Untitled project”

Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).

Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!

This week’s piece is “Untitled project” by Elise Graham:

Elise Graham, Untitled project

Elise Graham, Untitled project

I stumbled across Elise Graham on Fuck Yeah Female Artists (My new tumblr addiction. It’s INCREDIBLE). Graham works in a very strict format, with collages limited to few source materials, generally including black and white drawing, and sized 8.5″x11″. These works are framed and hung in grids. Graham refers to her collages as “Rearrangements that manufacture false realities” and enjoys the accessibility of the medium.

You can see more of Graham’s work on her website. Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments!

Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: Shizuka Yokomizo’s Dear Stranger. You may also enjoy this post on the famous collage artist Martha Rosler.

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Audrey Niffenegger and Faith Ringgold: Sending Messages

I was fortunate enough to visit the Audrey Niffenegger and Faith Ringgold show this summer, and agree that the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ blog review is spot on. At first the two artists seem almost too stylistically dichotomous to cohesively show together. Ringgold’s work has strong themes of the struggles of black Americans in the 60s using bold, flat colors while Niffenegger’s work focuses on beautiful yet twisted images, favoring birds, women, and flowers. Check out the review to see how these two artists similarly use text within their work. And if you’re interested in Faith Ringgold’s work (or would like to see her quilts which were unfortunately absent from the exhibit) check out this post I wrote on the artist a few years ago.

Broad Strokes: The National Museum of Women in the Arts' Blog

At first glance, the two exhibitions on view this summer at NMWA, Awake in the Dream World: The Art of Audrey Niffenegger and American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s (both on view through November 10) could not feature the work of two more stylistically dichotomous artists.

At one extreme, Audrey Niffenegger conjures up surreal, minimalist depictions of the bizarre, absurd, and nightmarish that speak to her introspective, whimsical approach to art—images that boast figures minutely rendered with delicately drawn lines, muted color palettes, and which allow insight into the artist’s deeply personal fantasies. At the other end of the spectrum is Faith Ringgold, whose bold, colorful, passionate paintings from her American People and Black Light series of the 1960s function on both a personal and political level. Ringgold’s work bravely probed racial tensions from the perspective of a black woman artist during an era when art…

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Female Gaze Friday: Shizuka Yokomizo’s “Dear Stranger”

Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).

Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!

This week’s work is Dear Stranger by Shizuka Yokomizo:

Shizuka Yokomizo, Dear Stranger, 1998-2000

Shizuka Yokomizo, Dear Stranger, 1998-2000

Shizuka Yokomizo, Dear Stranger, 1998-2000

Shizuka Yokomizo, Dear Stranger, 1998-2000

Shizuka Yokomizo, Dear Stranger, 1998-2000

Shizuka Yokomizo, Dear Stranger, 1998-2000

Dear Stranger, I am an artist working on a photographic project which involves people I do not know…I would like to take a photograph of you standing in your front room from the street in the evening. A camera will be set outside the window on the street. If you do not mind being photographed, please stand in the room and look into the camera through the window for 10 minutes on __-__-__ (date and time)…I will take your picture and then leave…we will remain strangers to each other…If you do not want to get involved, please simply draw your curtains to show your refusal…I really hope to see you from the window.”

Shizuka Yokomizo’s work involves strangers working together. But unlike many artists exploring the relationship between artist and stranger (for example Sophie Calle and Willem Popelier) she gains the subject’s consent. Those photographed vary in gender, age, race, and many other factors. The only things they truly have in common are their living in ground-floor apartments (in many different cities) and the fact that they complied with the anonymous letters’ requests.

I’ve selected two of Yokomizo’s images featuring men. Yokomizo’s work is particularly interesting in that she did not select her subject and therefore knew nothing of their gender prior to the taking of the photo. The male subjects are also unaware of the artist’s gender, and therefore their poses are independent of the stereotypical relationships between men and women. The subjects and artists are both responsible for the final image in terms of how the subject poses and how the artist composes the shot.

Yokomizo’s images show the curiosity and defensiveness of her subjects in their poses and expressions. The figures look closed-off; fair enough for someone being photographed by a complete stranger!

You can see more of Yokomizo’s work on her personal website. Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments!

Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: Sylvia Sleigh’s At The Turkish Bath.

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“She Who Tells a Story”: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is currently exhibiting She Who Tells a Story, a show featuring twelve women photographers from Iran and the Arab world. The exhibit runs from August 27, 2013 – January 12, 2014 and includes work by Jananne Al-Ani, Boushra Almutawakel, Gohar Dashti, Rana El Nemr, Lalla Essaydi, Shadi Ghadirian, Tanya Habjouqa, Rula Halawani, Nermine Hammam, Rania Matar, Shirin Neshat, and Newsha Tavakolian.

Newsha Tavakolian, Dont Forget This Is Not You (for Sahar Lotfi), 2010. Chromogenic print mounted on aluminum.

Newsha Tavakolian, Dont Forget This Is Not You (for Sahar Lotfi), 2010. Chromogenic print mounted on aluminum.

The curator of She Who Tells a Story, Kristen Gresh, notes the work is all incredibly diverse, however, the theme of “complexities of identity” runs throughout. Looking at the included photos it’s clear that each photographer is shooting from a different perspective. One might focus on the horrors of war, another on girls coming of age, and another on landscape.

Rania Matar, Alia, Beirut, Lebanon, 2010. Pigment Print.

Rania Matar, Alia, Beirut, Lebanon, 2010. Pigment Print.

Gohar Dashti, Untitled #5, 2008. Chromogenic print.

Gohar Dashti, Untitled #5, 2008. Chromogenic print.

One of the artists, Newsha Tavakolian, says that although She Who Tells a Story can’t directly affect the political climate in Egypt or other parts of the region, this exhibit could help “provide people with the opportunity to see some different perspectives from the region”. By displaying the work of people whose perspective we are not entirely familiar with or who typically don’t have a large platform in the US, we can learn more about others and expand our own perspective. Exhibits dedicated to artists displaying their individual identities and perspectives can help combat misinformation and stereotypes.

If you’re in the Boston area, go to the show! For those of us who aren’t, we can check out more images from the exhibit here or read an article about the artists included here.

What do you think about the work in the show? Share your thoughts in the comments!

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, She Who Tells a Story, August 27, 2013 – January 12, 2014

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Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Women Are Not Seeking Your Validation”

Women Are Not Seeking Your Validation

Check out this Hyperallergic post on artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s project, Stop Telling Women to Smile. Fazlalizadeh’s posters mimic public PSAs and attempt to educate the public on how it feels to be a woman in a public space. Her project addresses the idea that women’s bodies and behaviors are a public commodity, and the idea that it’s ok for men to tell a woman to smile.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project

This is Fazlalizadeh’s project after a few days:

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project after a few days

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project after a few days

Part of Fazlalizadeh’s work is exhibiting the reaction she receives to her pieces. It’s interesting but, unfortunately, unsurprising that they range from telling her to “Relax!”, to sharing unsolicited advice “A cocky woman who blows a guy off isn’t that attractive, no matter how good you look”, to just plain old aggression “ARGUE BOUT THIS DICK– STFU! BE4 I RIP IT DOWN”.

Read the Hyperallergic post here and see more responses to Fazlalizadeh’s posters here.

What do you think about Fazlalizadeh’s work? How is the commentary part of the art?

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Women in Art: Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander is a Pakistani-American artist most well-known for her work with Indo-Persian miniature painting . Sikander creates miniatures in a variety of formats, experimenting with contemporary painting techniques, video, animation, and more.

Shahzia Sikander, SpiNN, 2003, video animation, still shot. Women's hair transform into birds and invade a Mughal court.Shahzia Sikander, SpiNN, 2003, video animation, still shot. Women's hair transform into birds and invade a Mughal court.

Shahzia Sikander, SpiNN, 2003, video animation, still shot. Women’s hair transform into birds and invade a Mughal court.

Sikander’s work brought a resurgence of miniature painting (at the time it was considered old fashioned and too craft-oriented) and lead to its new global status. Sikander breathed new life into miniatures, blending techniques and manipulating cultural imagery to create something new. However, while Sikander is thought of as reinventing miniature painting by many critics, she hesitates to say that. In Sikander’s words, “I think it wasn’t as black and white as that I started adding a kind of a modernist take on it or “reinventing” it, perhaps—which I think is, again, a very strong word.There were people who had been making miniature paintings and there’s a tradition of people making miniatures which are closer to the older themes, but by and large even the work that I have seen of artists before me was thematic. It was not from a personal space. And my interest really was to bring the personal into this space.”

Sikander draws upon multiple miniature styles and is influenced by Mughal, Rajput, Safavid paintings and more. From one tradition she might draw upon Hindu myth, and from another a naturalistic style. Her work cannot be defined by one time period or culture, rather it is composed from many. And to these cultures she adds her own identity. The narratives are related to her life and to living in today’s world.

Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander

Sikander’s work was stylistically similar to the traditional miniature during her time studying at Pakistan’s National College of Arts in Lahore. When she moved to America to obtain her MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design her work moved away from being quite so tight and technical, and her work became looser. She’d frequently create a meticulous piece and then cover it with loose, graffiti-like lines. Continue reading

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