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Holly Trostle Brigham: Sisters and Goddesses
February 20 - May 29, 2016
A new exhibition, Holly Trostle Brigham: Sisters and Goddesses, opened at the James A. Michener Art Museum on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Featuring the paintings of Philadelphia-based artist Holly Trostle Brigham, the exhibition will be on view in the Bette and Nelson Pfundt Gallery through May 29, 2016. (right: Holly Trostle Brigham (b. 1965), Sophonsiba and Her Painted Ladies, 2008, watercolor on paper, 29 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches. Collection of the artist, photograph by Kenneth Ek.)
Through the self-portraits on display in Sisters and Goddesses, Holly Trostle Brigham calls attention to the challenges women artists have faced through history, illuminating the legacies of strong women on the past by blending them with her own identity and personal experiences of what it is like to be a woman and an artist today.
"Holly's work is as thought-provoking as it is visually striking," said Kirsten M. Jensen, Ph.D., Gerry & Marguerite Lenfest Chief Curator at the Michener Art Museum, who curated the exhibition. "Her strong engagement with women's history and women's art history makes her work compelling, but her technique and medium are equally powerful. Holly's work -- predominantly watercolor, large in scale and rich in color -- provides a fitting backdrop for the historical themes she presents."
Holly Trostle Brigham is a Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts-trained figurative painter who creates mythical allegories of contemporary historical subjects. Her paintings have won awards at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Lancaster Art Association, and for watercolor at the Harrisburg Art Association. The evolution of her work can be seen in self-portraits displayed within the Sisters and Goddesses exhibition: Cybele on Her Birthing Throne and Isis: Regeneration are explorations of mythologies and stories about strong women in goddess-form, while Zephyr, Angel, Wings and Me depicts a reoccurring dream in which Brigham appears as Amelia Earhart -- who never crashes.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Michener Art Museum will also host an artist conversation on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, with the artist and Dr. Leo Mazow, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Arkansas (and former curator of American Art at the Palmer Museum, Penn State). For more details about the exhibition and the discussion, visit MichenerArtMuseum.org.
Wall text from the exhibition
Nearly fifty years ago, Linda Nochlin published her now-famous essay, "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" which queried an art historical narrative that ignored the contributions of women such as Artemesia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo, and Tamara de Limpicka. Rather than be beaten by the past, Nochlin encouraged women to "face up to the reality of their history and of their present situation without making excuses or puffing mediocrity." Since then, we have seen women taking space for themselves in the art world, but obstacles remain.
In her paintings, all self-portraits, Holly Trostle Brigham investigates the legacy of strong women of the past and blends them with her own experiences of what it is like to be a woman and an artist today. In assuming the guise of artists of the past -- Kahlo, Gentileschi, and de Lempicka -- Brigham remind us of the important stories of women in the arts. In these portraits, Brigham also looks to her academic past as a student at Smith College, one of the "seven sisters" colleges for women, and connects those collegiate sisters, her own life, and her artistic sisters throughout history.
Three other self-portraits demonstrate the evolution of
Brigham's work. Cybele on Her Birthing Throne and Isis: Regeneration
are explorations of mythologies and stories about strong women. Isis is
the ancient Egyptian goddess who returned her dead husband Osiris back to
life. Cybele is the Ancient Roman goddess of birth and fecundity and was
celebrated annually with parades for the return of spring. Zephyr, Angel,
Wings and Me depicts a reoccurring dream in which Brigham appears as
Amelia Earhart -- who never crashes. The painting marks Brigham's journey
into historical women as subject matter, but also explores aspects of her
own story: she holds her infant son Noble, represented as a pupa who will
one day grow his own wings to fly.
Extended object labels from the exhibition
(above: Holly Trostle Brigham (b. 1965), Tamara de Lempicka: On Autopilot, 2009, watercolor on paper, 29 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches, Courtesy of the artist.)
(above: Holly Trostle Brigham (b. 1965), Judith and Flora, 2003, watercolor on paper, 29 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches. Private collection, photograph by Kenneth Ek.)
(above: Holly Trostle Brigham (b. 1965), Isis: Regeneration, 1997, oil on panel, 50 x 40 inches. Collection of the artist, photograph by Kenneth Ek.)
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