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Unframed: Janet Allinger, Alissa Kaplan, Lori Markman, and Leslie Nemour
The University of San Francisco's Thacher Gallery is presenting Unframed: Janet Allinger, Alissa Kaplan, Lori Markman, and Leslie Nemour through March 28, 2004.
In "Unframed" four California artists present portraits of contemporary women, re-examining stereotypes such as the lady driver and mail order bride with a witty pop sensibility.
Janet Allinger's large acrylic paintings on canvas and digital prints are Lichtenstein-inspired. Each portrait takes on a female "type" to make fun of contemporary culture and femininity. Allinger incorporates her graphic design background through strong outlines and comic-strip compositions. Allinger lives in Santa Cruz and has shown her work throughout California.
Alissa Kaplan's small-scale, colorful mixed media monoprints demonstrate her interest in working with diverse materials. Thematically, they explore both the whimsical and dark side of childhood memories, perceptions of women, and doll imagery. Her works have a dream-like, narrative quality. Kaplan lives in Oakland, has shown her work in San Francisco and Berkeley, and was the recipient of a Watershed Residency in Massachusetts.
Lori Markman's large oils on canvas tell the story of an auto accident in which she was seriously injured. In this work, she explores how to present movement and bodily trauma through time in an art form that is most conducive to the frozen moment. Markman lives in Van Nuys and has had solo and group shows throughout California.
Leslie Nemour will be presenting oil paintings from her "envelope" series. Inspired by the Mexican novela (soap opera) and filmmakers' storyboards, her work presents narratives painted on wooden panels that have been sectioned off like envelope flaps. The pieces in this exhibition focus specifically on mail order brides and elements of communication. Nemour lives and teaches in San Diego and has shown her work throughout California.
A panel discussion about women in the arts featuring "Unframed" artists will take place on Monday, March 8, from 1:30-3:00 p.m. in the University Center Faculty Lounge. Paula Birnbaum, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, and scholar of women artists will moderate. This event is in honor of International Women's Day and is co-sponsored by USF's Women's Studies Program.
Unframed: Artist Statements
Janet Allinger, Santa Cruz
Alissa Kaplan, Oakland
Lori Markman, Van Nuys
Leslie Nemour, San Diego
UNFRAMED: A CRITICAL INTRODUCTION
By Paula Birnbaum, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Visual and Performing Arts Department
For centuries images of women living out circumscribed roles have saturated the art world as well as the media. We are all too familiar with such popular images of woman as commodity: slender, sexually available, and defined by her relationship to others. In "Unframed," four California artists engage in a powerful social critique of modern femininity by telling compelling stories about women's lives. Whether challenging the beauty myth or confronting painful memories and bodily trauma, each artist uses narrative structure to explore different pressures placed on women to conform to a culturally specific ideal. Their work makes a vital contribution to the ongoing history of contemporary art that questions societal demands that have dictated the way in which women have been represented in visual culture.
Janet Allinger offers witty images in the form of contemporary comic heroines that parody the 1960s Pop art movement led by Roy Lichtenstein. While Pop art brought the mass culture of comic strips and advertisements into the realm of high art, it featured slick nudes, pin ups, and images of women as sex objects that remain inaccessible to most women. In Allinger's large acrylic paintings and digital prints we meet a cast of characters ready to challenge prior female Pop icons. Ray Gun Girl is the modern woman warrior, armed with munitions and short, red hair that protrudes like flames: "She's rough, she's tough She kicks ass." Motorcycle Girl also demonstrates her power through mobility and speed, while nonetheless satirically flaunting her femininity as part of her popular appeal: "wear lipstick with SPF!"
Lori Markman's large oils on canvas also engage with pop sensibility -- as well as employing realism and abstraction -- to tell the story of an automobile accident in which the artist was seriously injured. Her storyboard format effectively confronts the narrative challenge of representing movement and the passage of an intense sequence of events that altered her life and bodily perceptions. Each painting chronicles the artist's emotional state as the accident transpired, from the visceral shock of Impact and its subtle layers of visual collision, to the explicit vulnerability and physical and emotional pain of Broken. Reminiscent of Frida Kahlo's paintings about female bodily trauma, Markman's work is invested with a haunting complexity and powerful narrative quality.
Leslie Nemour's oil paintings from her "Envelopes" series also use narrative structure to offer commentaries about women's complicated choices and strategies for communication and connection to others. Inspired by the Mexican novela (soap opera) and filmmakers' storyboards, each rectangular painting is sectioned off into four triangles "to simulate the divisions on the back of an envelope." In Love From Wyoming we meet a mail order bride who is confronted with a history of her own correspondence and the prospect of travel and romance with a faceless American stranger. The power of Nemour's work lies in her ability to tell stories about the divisions between people, genders, and cultures through the unique structural device of the envelope.
Alissa Kaplan's small-scale, mixed media monoprints also look at perceptions of female identity and choice through a critical lens. Her images of isolated girls, dolls, and circus performers posed before flat, decorative backgrounds evoke a dream-like quality associated with the Surrealist movement. The Surrealists were known to have celebrated the powers of the femme-enfant of woman-child, an enchanting muse whose youth and naiveté allowed her pure connection with her own unconscious. For Kaplan, however, such imagery of secluded and vulnerable looking girls and dolls evokes the dark side of her memories of what it means to grow up female in America.
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