A RADICAL VOICE: 23 Women, an exhibit at the Southampton Arts Center, delivers a high-quality body of work which is delightfully varied, engaging, and thoughtful. However, the label ‘radical’, in the sense of being an abrupt break or extreme rupture or disruption, seems out of place. Instead, the work exemplifies the achievements of sustained studio practice over time. The exhibit is collectively comprised of artists who happen to be women. Many exhibit nationally and internationally. What connects the work for this particular exhibit is a curatorial vision which draws attention to the form and language of the artists’ materials. Gender or gender issues are subsumed under investigations of artistic personal vision and materials exploration, the trajectory of which may also intersect with matters of social, political and environmental concern.
From the outset, we acknowledge each artist represented in the exhibit:
Olive Ayhens, Amanda Church, Martha Clippinger, Connie Fox, Regina Gilligan, Tamara Gonzales, Jacqueline Gourevitch, Lisa Hein, Priscilla Heine, Hilary Helfant, Elana Herzog, Alice Hope, Laurie Lambrecht, Judith Linhares, Erika Ranee, Judy Richardson, Bonnie Rychlak, Toni Ross, Drew Shiflett, Jeanne Silverthorne, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Jude Tallichet, and Almond Zigmund.
The artist and pieces discussed below were selected as a means to intrigue readers and encourage those who might be inclined to see the exhibit, but haven’t yet, to get up and get going before the show comes down!
Priscilla Heine’s abstract painting “Under the Lilies” and echoing assemblage “Lily Tagine” caught my attention immediately for their exuberance and pulsing sense of life. This is a reflection of the nature of the subject matter and the artist’s own vitality and presence which she brings to elusive moments of being, before words get in the way. Heine balances abstraction with representation creating a tension between what is known and not known, and that which is in the process of becoming. Her work in this exhibit, which relates two and three-dimensional pieces, exudes a feeling of authoritative yet genuine exploration. This is quite re-affirming given her life experience as an artist which spans four decades. To see more of her work visit: http://priscillaheine.com
Laurie Lambrecht’s digital prints on linen “Bark Cloth #1-12” were among the most sensitively rendered and seductive images on exhibit in A RADICAL VOICE. From a distance they shimmer harmoniously, while close-up their mysteries and marvels start to become more apparent through intricate details and evidence of the working hand. This is a radical shift in her modus operandi. Known as a well-established photographer, Lambrecht touches the world with her eye. She is known for photographs of trees and the organic life stories which they contain. She reminds us that photographs can bear witness to the truth. However, in moving away from traditional photo papers to linen, she has created an opportunity to introduce embroidering into the image. This serves to add layers of meaning to the work as well as create place holders of memory as the artist extends her relationship with each image through time and materials. To see more of her work visit: https://www.laurielambrecht.com
“Justified” emerges from Toni Ross’s cross-over lexicon of minimalism and conceptual art. For the casual viewer, it is easy to gloss over. Common hooks to engage viewers’ attention such as loud flashy colors, monumental scale, dramatic angles, or even recognizable imagery are all absent. Instead, we are left with order, an appearance or illusion of repetition, and monochromatic variations of broken and assembled flat pieces of clay. The work falls within her current series of “Strata’ but the fragment pieces have become smaller, the arrangement more complex. She retains signature gestures such as including small square or rectangular “holes” in the work and allowing the process to be evident in the work. This piece may raise more questions than answer them. As an ensemble grouping, the piece remains enigmatic. There are suggestions of a page layout, undeciphered text blocks that remain incomplete. Is Ross’s work a pointer or signifier to language and languages role in sustaining order or perpetuating oppression? Or, since the is comprised of clay materials which runs deep in human history, is this work referring to the longevity of language and the power of the written word? The title has historical and political overtones which suggest other interpretations as well. To see more of her work visit: https://www.tonirossstudio.com.
Alice Hope’s “Untitled” provides a power boost to A RADICAL VOICE with her installation of used Coke Can Tabs and IV Tubing. In unimaginably arduous studio process, Hope manufactured a two six-foot diameter spirals using only two materials. I could easily envision this work installed at MASSMOCA in North Adams, Massachusetts or the Hood Museum in Miami, Florida. The work is bold and loud, yet restrained and orderly. The large scale speaks to contemporary art and museum placement. The design central design concept of circle and spiral is dislodged by the flow of the cable/chain/tubing which detangles organically on the floor. By going from wall to floor, the work displaces the viewer as an outsider and brings them into a physical relation with the work where each are both are present on common ground. Cords of separation are cut between the viewer and the piece as the art object encroaches into personal space. However, the piece maintains a clinical purism, reduced as it is to form and materials, raising questions about relationships of the organic and geometric as well as the human and the man-made. To see more of her work visit: https://alicehope.com
Artistic vision and materials matter in A RADICAL VOICE. We are reminded of the uniqueness of individual’s perspectives through the diversity of work. More importantly, viewers are invited to participate in their own interpretation of each piece. In this sense, the exhibit honors participant-viewers in constructing meaning, narratives or simply pre-conscious, felt experiences that the pieces evoke through form, shape, colors, textures, and materials. It is a subtle reminder that somehow visual art remains beyond the reach of words.
A RADICAL VOICE: 23 Women curated by Janet Goleas at the Southampton Arts Center
February 17 – March 25, 2018 http://southamptonartscenter.org
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About the Author: Andrew Buck earned his doctoral degree from Columbia University in art and art education. He is a free-lance arts writer and creative type who values goodwill, learning, and dialogue.