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Posts Tagged ‘Feminist Art’

Life Exposed

Karen Savage’s photograms appear as x-rays capturing the experience of her Catholic upbringing.  Baby Dresses, Wedding Dresses, Penance Scarves are exposed for their delicate place in our history.  Each of these pieces tell a story, creating a collection of stories of women we can all identify with, Savage explains to me as we sit in her Oak Park home.

And the City Gallery at the History Water Tower (806 N. Michigan Ave) in Chicago is an appropriate setting for these works to be on display.  Photograms are created by laying something sheer, like an article of clothing on top of photo-sensitive paper then exposing it to light.  What comes out of this process is a ghostly white image floating on a black backdrop.  There is no lens to manipulate, just the remains of a handkerchief, a lace collar or a tablecloth to tell the tale.

The subject matter in Savage’s pieces adds weight to the medium.  The pieces she selects to examine are of the past; items now discarded for her to find in flea markets and thrift shops, like dress gloves and delicate collars and lace table clothes. Full size dresses show the delicacy of the material.  The embroidery of a tablecloth creates an ornately beautiful pattern.

The black and white works are haunting, but it is the lace gloves stopped me in my tracks.  These gloves are an object from the past, captured on a color photo paper; a process no longer available. The red, yellow, purple are made even bolder next to the black and whites.  This series appears to look like each set were just tossed on to a side table or dressing table and making me wonder who worn them and for what occasion.

Savages images tell a story of the past and of the present; a world of celebration and penance – a delicate world unobstructed by any lens.

(This work can be seen at the City Gallery at the Historic Water Tower through May 10, 2010)

Women of Juarez

More than any other to date, the exhibition currently at the National Museum of Mexican Art, Rastros y Cronicas: Women of Juarez, typifies what we at TE are trying to showcase — Arts that explore relevant issues of the day.

Since 1994 with the approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement, American companies have crossed over to Mexico to build factories called maquiladoras and boarder cities like Juarez began to boom.  Young men and women moved from small towns in hopes of finding a better way of life.  In reality, what has happened is rapid, uncontrolled growth; shantytowns where women have been abducted and brutally murdered.  And few of these crimes have been solved.

This exhibition looks at the politics of NAFTA for sure, as in Cecillia Alvarez’s piece When the Opportunist is King Women are a Commodity where the rape and pillaging of poor women and resources benefit men in suits with blinders on, marching through the factory reaping the rewards.

Your Last Doll

Your Last Doll by Ester Hernandez

Marked, hija de Juárez, from artist Eva Soliz explores that natural reaction to something too difficult to comprehend and that is to just look away.  In here entry, Soliz has two chess-like figures, one of a queen headed down a path, her face is marked with a pink cross, the symbol used by the families of the abducted women.  In the foreground, a smaller male figure, a pawn, looks away and reinforce the idea of a community not making an effort to acknowledge these crimes.

But the majority of the works look at the loss of these mothers, daughters and sisters.  Numerous pieces look at the innocence of the ‘muejeres’, as young as six years old, who have been lost. Ester Hernandez’s installation Your Last Doll has an actual poster of one of the victims enlarged.

The words “Se Busca” or “Searching For” and a photo of the 14 year old before the abduction.  In the foreground a Plexiglas case holds a Quinceanera doll, representing the last doll a girl is to receive before she becomes a woman, bringing home that many of these victims are young girls.

Recently Juarez has been in the news for its drug cartels and drug related violence.  But these murders are still happening and will continue until more people turn and face this problem head on.

You can see these works as part of the exhibition Rastros y Cromcas: Women of Juarez, at the National Museum of Mexican Art now extended through July 4, 2010.