Sunday, November 13, 2016

Night Stand: Bedside Imaginings

FIG's newest exhibit, Night Stand: Bedside Imaginings by the Feminist Image Group, is currently at the Women's Museum of California through November 27th.

This Thursday, Nov 17, there will be a pajama party, where FIG artists will talk about their art in a PJ party setting, complete with party food, blankets, and sleeping bags. Check out the link here to register for the PJ party.

The exhibit started with exploring the ideas behind Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party, a setting for every woman, with exploration into WomanHouse...each nightstand suggests a woman, real or imagined, who sleeps next to it. Below are the night-stand installations with artists' statements...

Irene Abraham's piece, Growth, is an homage to Barbara McClintock, an American geneticist who received the Nobel Prize in 1983 for her ground-breaking work on corn genetics, started in the 1930s. Irene was quite honored to have met her when she was a graduate student. She was one of the first people to explain the unexplainable in classical Mendelian genetics. She challenged longstanding dogmas culminating in the discovery of what are called “jumping genes”.

Imagine Barbara coming home after a long day in the lab, going to bed tired but happy, with dreams of corn, plants, and all living things crowding her head. 

She may have been a light sleeper: “I was just so interested in what I was doing I could hardly wait to get up in the morning and get at it” (Evelyn Fox Keller, A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock (1984), 70).

Stephanie Bedwell's piece I Do, I Undo, I Redux is a tribute to Louise Bourgeois, an artist who rarely made work to order, and never made work to please. Spanning seven decades, many of them working in anonymity, her work reveals a deeply personal dialogue between artist and self. 

This homage borrows the title from one of Bourgeois’ monumental spider installations, I Do, I Undo, I Redo, suggesting ways in which we continually negotiate and renegotiate primary relationships. 

Her universal theme of the “fragility of verticality” drove the concept for this nightstand…it is a response to the tensions and fragility of being human, and the desire to balance our selves despite our fear of falling.

Stacie Birky Greene's piece Tiffany Revisited: Homage to Clara Driscoll came from an idea after she recently learned of Driscoll's pivotal role at Tiffany’s. Driscoll was director of the Tiffany Studios Women’s Glass Cutting department, or the “Tiffany Girls.” Birky Greene is sure that few people are aware that she was the one who came up with the concept and design for the Tiffany lamps in 1895. This was during a time when women still had few rights or freedoms in the workplace. In fact, Clara lost her job at Tiffany’s twice for getting married, the last time in 1909, as married women were not allowed to work there. 

Once Birky Greene became aware of this, she began to have a new appreciation for the lamps. Driscoll's nature-based motifs mirror Birky Greene's own artistic inspiration. In keeping with her own artistic practice, she used recycled materials as a base for her pieces. Her interpretation of the “Dragon Fly Lamp” is a found lamp embellished with paint, toilet paper rolls, tissue paper, and junk mail tiles. The “Wisteria” nightstand is cut and painted plastic tubes and toilet paper rolls. Birky Greene is drawn to the idea of re-imagining something considered “high end” made from something “low end.”

Moya Devine's piece, Ça C’est Bon; On Love and Sex and Bruce Lee, has themes of intertwining sexual and emotional personas.

Bruce Lee takes form as the wings of a dragonfly; his impish grin embracing a sexual invitation. The vampy tramps are aggressive with their sexuality. The portrait gives voice to parts that hide behind words spoken and unspoken, portraying a kittenish face blowing kisses. 

The drawer celebrates a soft, pink vulnerability housing a woman’s face expressing joy. The dark interior, guarded by spiky globes and leathery torsos holds longing for the light of glowing love. 

Dani Dodge's installation Elbowroom reveals the sharp angles and the fragile net required to balance a woman’s need for autonomy with the human desire for partnership. At the same time, it gives a window into what can be lost when coupledom is achieved. 

Jeanne Dunn created a piece in collaboration with biographer Carolyn Burke titled Lee Miller: War Correspondent.

Dunn writes, "A few years ago when I first read Lee Miller: A Life, written by celebrated biographer Carolyn Burke, I was struck by the ways that Lee (Elizabeth) Miller (1907-1977) navigated the extraordinary challenges and changes in her life. At seven years old she experienced a violent sexual assault perpetrated by someone in her neighborhood. For this she endured long, painful medical treatment. Growing up and entering the world of work, her natural beauty recommended her to fashion modeling, an easy direction for her parents to support since they lived in Poughkeepsie, close to New York. Modeling for Condé Nast publications took her to Europe, and she soon longed to be on the other side of the camera, documenting and creating.

In 1930 she established herself as a professional photographer, opening a studio and exhibiting work. She had a colorful personal life in Egypt, France, and England, travelling between them for years. She participated in Neo-Dada and Surrealist art and photography circles with artists and performers, including Man Ray, Saul Steinberg, Dorothea Tanning, Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington, Pablo Picasso, Joseph Cornell, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Cocteau, Colette, John Houseman, and Antoni Tapies. She married twice, first to Egyptian businessman Aziz Eloui Bey, and then to artist Roland Penrose with whom she had a son, Antony."

Dunn's night stand, created in collaboration with Carolyn Burke, is based on a photo of Lee Miller’s night table from which she sent her wartime dispatches and photo-documentation. As a consequence of her reporting, Americans recognized clearly that the horrors of the Nazi death camps were undeniably real. Dunn's paintings are interpretations of her images, coming from thousands representing a period in her rich career in photojournalism. While most of the paintings are based on Miller’s photographs, Dunn inserted a few others, like the LIFE magazine cover.  

Grace Gray-Adams created My Tower of Power. She writes: "When I started this piece I made a list of all possible artists for which I could make a night stand. I was very aware that in March of this year I would have a milestone birthday. Having lived for so long, many female artists have influenced my work and my life. My proposal was to build a nightstand for every decade of my life and stack them on top of one another in a very Dr. Seuss-like structure. Well, they are stacked but in a more civilized fashion.I started in February by ordering nightstands.Putting them together was a challenge and they made IKEA’s furniture seem like pure child’s play. After they were all assembled I painted them with white primer.

Choosing the artists was much easier work. Each nightstand proved to be an intense communion with its artist. I have been grieving the loss of loves and used this time to heal. All these women suffered loss and still produced remarkable work."

Gray-Adams' piece includes the following artists and her thoughts about each as she created their night stand: 
Frida Kahlo: Passion, pain, political, color, fashion, nature, openness, Mexico
Faith Ringgold: Brave, bold, pioneer, painter, textiles, My Favorite Professor, two daughters
Ann Hamilton: Textiles, words, video, poetic, installation artist, received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama

Hildegard of Bingen: German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, healer, counselor, scientist, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath
Bettye Saar: Assemblage, 90 and still working, two artist daughters
Beatrice Wood: Ceramic artist worked passed 100 years old because of her love of “art books, young men and chocolates.” When she was younger she was very free and had many affairs. Duchamp was one of them. Mama of Dada
Georgia O’Keeffe:  New York, New Mexico, flowers, southwestern landscapes, when she was 70, a young man knocked on her door and remained as her assistant until her death.

Janice Grinsell's piece Prevailing Grace was created to lift the veil of discontent we often feel when trying to attain a goal that goes against the grain of our natural being. It represents the struggle to develop a sense of self that isn't attached to physical appearance; the ability to embrace not only wisdom, but the natural beauty that comes with aging.

These are important lessons as we reach into that "Golden" stage of life. Lessons that provide a platform for deep introspection. Lessons that are an integral part in making choices that will bring us contentment. 

The virgin hair collected, untouched by artificial color, is just one of the many choices giving credence to how individuals brave the aging process. Transparent glass and mirror creates dichotomy, one allowing access inside, the other, a reflection of the surface.

The shapes of stacked glass spheres become symbolic of mental fertility, christened by a chalice of floating seed pods, representing the buoyant nature of a women's most private uniqueness. 

Lisa Hutton's piece, A Dry Branch Floats in a Blue Sky, is a playful reinvention of Georgia O’Keefe’s painting Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico/Out Back of Marie's II (1930). 

Linda Litteral's piece Sentinel: A Woman's Guardian was created in memory of Mary, murdered by her husband of 22 years. In Litteral's words, "Mary was shot and killed, in her bed by John, before he shot and killed himself. Mary and I became friends in grade school. We remained distant friends through high school as she was older than I was. We both had daughters in 1976 within days of each other and reconnected.

I later moved to San Diego, where she arrived at my home with her 7-year-old daughter, a grocery bag of clothing, with a black eye and other injuries. John was beating her. After several months she decided to go back to Michigan and John. I could not talk her out of it. 15 years later she was murdered by John, Leaving daughter Jessica and three grandchildren."

In the United States a woman is beaten every nine seconds. Three or more women are murdered by their boyfriends or husbands on average every day. Domestic violence is the single greatest cause of injury to women, with FBI estimates of violence occurring in two-thirds of all marriages.  Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels, and ages are battered. Approximately 54,000 women are murdered by an intimate partner every 5 years. Men counseled for battering a partner are professional men who are well respected in their jobs and communities, including doctors, psychologists, lawyers, ministers, and business executives.

Worldwide 35 percent of all women have experienced either physical and or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Half of the women murdered around the world were murdered by intimate partners or family members.

Numbers listed above came from studies by the FBI, American Medical Association, 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Violence Against Women, United Nations, and the American Psychology Association. 
Kathleen Mitchell created Catriona for a fictitious woman defined by love: unconditional love, unrequited love, inability to love, the search for love. She invited (via social media) people to write letters to Catriona, and through those letters Mitchell would “create” her life. These were the only instructions Mitchell's accomplices were given:

"My nightstand belongs to a woman named Catriona. She is 58 years old (born in 1958). She has loved and been loved. She has never married. YOU were one of her great loves. You are part of her history. She has kept every letter ever written to her in a box tucked into her nightstand.

You can draw on a past love of yours or have it come completely out of your imagination... Please date your letter between 1974 and 2016, so keep in mind how old each of you were/are.

Your letter can be to her at the beginning, middle, or end of your relationship. It can run a gamut of emotions. You may doodle on it, kiss it, cry on it, crumple it up, spill a drink on is up to you but please make it handwritten. Oh! and feel free to write more than one!"

As the letters arrived, Catriona (“Cat”) emerged as a woman who truly loved only two men in her life, her father who died in Vietnam, and Walter “W” who died in a freak operating room electrical failure in Berlin during brain surgery.

Never able to process her anger at them for leaving her, she wore her sense of abandonment like a badge that alternately drew others to her and repelled them when they got too close.

Mitchell invites you to touch, to read, and to follow Catriona’s journey via her search for love, her loneliness, her nightmares.

Kathy Nida's MomSleep is one of two beds in the exhibit. Moms have a special level of sleep…always aware of the living things in their space, or even far away, worried even when they aren’t within reach. 

Kathy Nida and Prudence Horne collaborated on Real Dreams, a night stand with wall text. 

Things women have in common: We often don’t sleep well, especially as we age. Sometimes we need to read before we sleep. Sometimes we write our own stories. Sometimes we read the stories of others. Sometimes we read in the middle of the night because we can’t go back to sleep. If we’re lucky, we fall into dreams made of the stories only recently allowed into our heads. The stories carry our dreams and our nightmares.

Imagine being the author of those stories and knowing you could only publish with a name that didn’t reveal your gender. So many women wrote under other names, and their stories populated our dreams. Their real names are here, no masquerades. Our dreams are here, beside the bed where we sleep.

Kim Niehans' piece The Insomniac...

This piece incorporates video of Niehans herself acting out insomniac moments.

Nilly Gill's Unknown Plunge is described by the artist: "Night STAND: Two words that unlocked a mental stage in me - finding-collecting/rediscovering - creating-–a renewed seeing of my theatrical props-art pieces, at times sharply exaggerated pointing to timeless stories, installations coming out of the closet. Little surprises keep revealing themselves as objects get touched by me or simply moved-–Some placed on dusty shelves almost camouflaged like secrets, weaving past and present, flowing on silky tempting fabrics, at times changing genders as in a play. The 'actors' appear–a painted light bulb 'eyes' the viewer among figures on vases, all gathering with a partly painted mixed gender dandy 'CABARET' character silent old mantel clock in a black felt bowler hat collecting moments in time, remembering, remembering. Once upon a time I created a ceramic wall relief with casts of my children's toys, I called it: "Our toys-Ourselves", I can add now: our art creations, our props-ourselves.

Entering my mental stage TIME interacts with materials, with objects, noticing a yellow silk rose given to me by my daughter, its stem embedded in melted wax embracing a broken ornamental piece of a mirror frame, all entwined, reflecting associations all within a Manischewitz remembrance jar.

In Entering the present are my paintings "Colors" & "Unknown Plunge,” marking, carving, digging, opening the new, the unknown, the known. Thank you viewer for visiting my stage."

Ann Olsen created Malala’s Dream, honoring Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 because of her public support for the education of all girls in Pakistan. Malala almost died from severe brain injury as a result of the attack. After extensive rehabilitation therapy and the support of her family, who also eventually joined her in England, Malala continues to speak out for education for girls all over the world. On October 10, 2014 Malala became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Olsen conceived this piece as a representation of Malala’s dream for world peace and education for all. She imagined Malala with a night stand full of books that she is always studying in her pursuit of knowledge. Her love of family and her home in the Swat Valley of Norther Pakistan are represented in the photos. The scarf is symbolic of her words and her accomplishments. As a Muslim woman, Malala is shown wearing her hijab or headscarf. Olsen incorporated a scarf with the night stand to reference her identity and the accomplishments of her life, embroidering many eloquent declarations about Malala's determination to fight for world peace and education. One of her most famous quotations is written and embroidered in 15 different languages:  “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” 

As we all do when we set aside the cares of the day and lay down to sleep, Olsen imagines Malala setting aside her hijab, her books, and her pens to dream of her home and the friends she left behind in Pakistan, and a future where all girls are free to pursue their goals. 

Judith Parenio's piece WE ARE.....incorporates a night stand and sculpture. 

Many of the things we are, no matter what background and upbringing we came from, are embodied on this piece. EVERY woman, with her special multi-faceted qualities, is represented. (Parenio's idea came immediately upon knowing the title of the exhibit!) The white stoneware sculpture is coated in encaustic medium and the text was transferred to the surface. Open the drawer, carefully, to view Woman's unique gift from Mother Nature. We are each so incredibly exceptional!

Terrilynn Quick's piece Roots of my Lineage is described by the artist: "My ancestors fled from Germany between WWI and WWII. They slammed the doors on this part of their lives and never encouraged me to research or connect to my heritage. This repudiation of their cultural connection has made me more curious and caused me to fantasize about my ancestry. Discovering the German photomontage/collage artist Hannah Hoch (November 1, 1889 – May 31,1978), filled this void and the desire to have a connection to my roots and lineage."

Hannah Hoch and Quick share an affinity for the media of collage, and the use of fiber arts and embroidery, (she designed embroidery patterns). Hoch continued to live in Germany during WWII producing work that questioned the social injustice of her time. Her work helps Quick to understand why her relatives left their homeland. 

These travel suitcases are for a woman that was living in fear and might need to flee on a short notice. Hannah Hoch, as an early feminist artist, inspires Quick to continue with her art process and advocate for women and their health issues through her social justice project, The Uterus Flag Project. 

Ginger Rosser's piece What the world needs is a good night’s sleep is described by the artist:

This night stand has potential.
It reflects on the past to prepare for the future.
It’s portable, practical, idealistic.

Up off your knees girls.
What the world needs is a good night’s sleep.

Like the magic of furniture polish
this night stand will shine 
with the right encouragement.

David Ghilarducci and Anna Stump created "Cha Cha Cha...

Inviting viewer interaction...

Lynn Susholtz's piece We Dream intends to honor the voices and dreams of every woman and girl. 

The audio was collected from dozens of participants responding to the prompt: “I Dream...”. Pick up the headphones and listen.

Cindy Zimmerman's piece One Night Stand is for the Patron Saint: Mary Magdalen, Apostle, dedicated to all women for whom touch has been a power transaction.

From the Gospel according to Luke: “A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

The One Night Stand is one of an ongoing series of Sad-Sack Saint artworks, in which the lives of the saints are undergoing some deconstruction and expansion, using the artist’s inner voices as a guide. This is not the way to do it, according to the kind of religion Zimmerman was taught, and she can claim no Imprimatur. Yet it is done with love, compassion, and acknowledgement of the need for the spiritual in a life filled with conflict and confusion. In this piece, Mary Magdalen has a brand new hairstyle, has learned some new foot treatments, and has taken full ownership of her sexuality, accepting no disrespect and feeling no shame.

We hope you will visit the exhibit before it closes at the end of November. The details shown here cannot show it justice, nor allow you to hear the sound or see the video included in two of the pieces. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow these are absolutely adorable! love how the green brings out all these gorgeous colors in these images! They are photographed really well as well