Thursday, August 3, 2017

Women Painting Women: In Earnest

A Traveling Museum Exhibition 

I'm honored to have my painting The Seamstress, included in the show. The list of artists includes many whose work I admire and have followed for as long as I've been doing this professionally, so pinch me, I must be dreaming.

Curators’ Statement

Women Painting Women: In Earnest is an exhibition that honors the human spirit and shares the thoughtful and unique vision of 34 artists who explore the complexity of being a woman today. Each artist looks beyond the surface of her subject, beyond mere replication of the physical world before her, in search of deeper realities. These artists have found a freedom to avoid voyeuristic depictions of the female form to examine honest and sometimes personal narratives about the struggles and resilience of the indomitable contemporary woman. With a sincere conviction to their craft, these artists raise such ideas as role association and identity, fragility with dignity, and emotional complexity to engage the viewer. Our hope as curators is that this exhibition will elicit an emotional response or unexpected connection that grants access to a greater depth of experience for both artist and viewer. As a noun, the word earnest can mean “a promise of what is to come." Indeed, these artists serve as the bellwethers at a time in history when women have the freedom to define how we see ourselves.  

~Alia El-Bermani - Curator and Co-Founder of Women Painting Women
~Diane Feissel - Curator and Co-Founder of Women Painting Women

The Seamstress, 39x32, oil on canvas over panel.


Important information: 

Exhibition at Customs House Museum & Cultural Center, Clarksville, TN
August 1 – October 1, 2017 
August 10,  5-7pm -  Opening Reception 
Sept 16 - Artist and Curator Walking Tour  5-7pm I will be in attendance for this event

Exhibition at J. Wayne Stark Galleries at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Oct 16 - Dec 31, 2017
Oct 18 - Panel Discussion in the College of Architecture
Oct 19 - Afternoon Demo in Stark Galleries or College of Architecture

If you are in Clarksville, TN, or College Station, TX, do stop by! And if you can't get to the show in person, there is a beautiful catalog available online.
Do women paint women differently than men? The WPW movement is giving us a chance to see these paintings in a collective way and an opportunity to contemplate the question.

I have painted a male model wearing this superhero shirt many times but never painted a woman wearing it before.

This is one of those paintings that for me began as a story inspired by an individual and personal story but has transcended into a universal theme.

The model is my daughter, Carly. Rather than wait for her time to come, this young heroine is taking her destiny in hand. Who doesn't want to be a superhero? ‘Tis better to create her own reality, even though at times it may feel as though she’s holding it all together with safety pins. She can be in charge and look feminine and sexy as hell at the same time.

Click on Read More below to see details of the painting and musings.
This is my grandmother's sewing machine. Her name was Willie Avenell. We often speculated that she was named Willie because her father was so hoping for a boy. She came of age during the depression in the rural South. She was one of five daughters born to a share cropper, who also cut railroad ties to feed his family. She was married at the age of 14.
Carly inherited her dimples. She also inherited Avanell's love of sewing. I originally designed this without the sewing machine but eventually added it. I didn't think about sewing being a connection between my grandmother and my daughter in a conscious way. It just felt right. So often painting is that way, if I let my unconscious mind do its thing, it will come up with some interesting connections.

During the course of the painting and after it was finished, I have been thinking of the disparity between my daughter's life and my grandmother's life. The differences are mostly attributable to the economics of their upbringing. But there is also the difference in a woman's place in the world, as understood in the 1930's when my grandmother got married and now 75 years later.

Growth is turbulent and painful.

The changes during the years between have given my daughter innumerable opportunities for education and life choices. I'm grateful to those men and women that have fought long and hard for change. Yet, did you know that the Equal Rights Amendment is still not part of the US Constitution? Me either, 'till I was doing research for this post.
This is me, with my daughter and daughter-in-law, at a Women's Rights Rally on the steps of the State Capital in Montgomery, AL a couple years ago. It was the first time we'd ever done anything like this and it was enlightening. 
My daughter, son, and son-in-law also marched in the Women's March in Birmingham, Jan 2017. The crowd size was between 5000-10,000 which was surprising indeed for a conservative city like Birmingham. I wonder what my grandmother would think about the opportunities my children have and if she'd be proud that we are still working for equal rights.

I love close-ups because they are such a wonderful record of an artist's journey through a painting.


Birmingham, AL skyline in a shout-out to the place I live.

So, would a man have made this painting of his daughter? Maybe, how would it look different? How would it be the same?


PRESS for the Exhibit:

There is a wonderful article about the exhibit, in Nashville Arts. I'm thrilled that The Seamstress is included but you must click on the link to read the rest and see other wonderful paintings in the show.


A list of all the artists in the exhibit:
Leslie Adams
Jennifer Balkan
Mia Bergeron
Candice Bohannon
Margaret Bowland
Ali Cavanaugh
Aleah Chapin
Rachel Constantine
Ellen Cooper
Kamille Corry
Angela Cunningham
Stephanie Deshpande
Michelle Doll
Ellen Eagle
Zoey Frank
Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso
Kristy Gordon
Haley Hasler
Felice House
Nancy Hollinghurst
Sylvia Maier
Carmen Mansilla
Karen Offutt
Catherine Prescott
Nicole Santiago
Terry Strickland


Hope to see you in Clarksville, TN, on Sept 16, 2017!

Painting by Ali Cavanaugh

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