Bethany Birnie, Bunny Portia, Caitlin Karolczak, C.L. Martin, Jane Wunrow, and Serah Sauser with a video installation piece from Jade Patrick
Amidst the upheaval of 2016, one of the many things that remained uncertain as we entered a year with the new President-elect is how women’s rights would be affected. With this in mind, our inaugural show, Valure, highlighted a group talented female artists whose work was a challenging, powerful and visible reminder that women will not be silenced or devalued in the art world and beyond.
The seven artists set out to deconstruct the confines of the idealized “feminine” and explore what it means to value the self while living within a society which places a taboo on aging and an endless fascination on youth. Influenced by dreams, individual identity and the metamorphosis of the body, this collection of work honored the physical, valuing life outside of the scope of the day-to-day.
Wunrow’s abstract works created a collage fluidity, jumping between the physical world and the Divine ambiguity. In the same vein, Karolczak’s soft-lensed, anatomical disfigurations acted as the connective tissue between the somatic and the caprice. In both, the ephemeral was present but the outcome of death loomed like an ominous apparition, lightly-hued and visually arresting.
Highlighting demonstrations of beauty through a voyeuristic gaze, artist Serah Sauser’s photographs invited us into a couture fantasy dipped in aberrancy. While Bethany Birnie’s whimsically macabre taxidermy pieces took callously discarded, ordinary roadkill and – with Frankenstein-esque creativity – reconstructed them into something dreamlike. By honoring the mortal chassis of these displaced animals, she placed worth on their life, both past and in their fantastical metamorphosis.
A series of reflective, autobiographical paintings inspired by her summer job as a Playboy Bunny in the 70’s, Bunny Portia’s works were of the genre “Memento Mori,” which loosely translates into “remember that you will die.” Through photos of the “ideal figure” overlapping medical x-ray imagery, her paintings were intended as a symbolic reminder of the impermanence of beauty, including the arc of aging and mortality.
Though each artist’s unique experience was apparent, their visual connection was a transcendent journey into the various ways society, culture and our own bias shape and often distort identity.