Current Gallery Exhibit
"When there are nine"-A Collaboration featuring sylvia ford, patricia izzo, rose lewandowski, martine macdonald, valerie mann, charlene uresy, alga washington, sharlene wElton & jeni wheeler
The Village Theater at Cherry Hill is pleased to exhibit works inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s famous quote "There will be enough women on the Supreme Court when there are nine" - now through March 31, 2020.
There will be a free reception honoring the artists and the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage on March 8, 2020 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. with a special stage program at 3:00 p.m.
When you think of a day, what does it consist of? Is it work? Is it family? Is it time spent seeking refuge, following a calling, or searching for peace? For most of us, a day is spent simply doing our best, trying our hardest to achieve all we need to achieve; we test ourselves on a daily basis by pushing the limits of what we believe we’re capable of, in order to balance the details and struggle of a day in a life.
As women in society, it can be difficult to manage all of this while avoiding the pitfalls and potholes put in place to make us stumble and fall behind. When I began this project, my intent was to show the direr struggles of women, the downsides, but it soon became something else entirely—instead of fear, and pain, what came through was light, and strength, and the relentless pursuance of power and peace of mind, despite everything else. With a lens and a digital touch, I was able to capture, and feel firsthand, the truth in that we all have our own levels of strength.
My inspiration to develop creative art comes in no small part from being a woman, a mother, and a wife; with so many different roles to fill, perspective comes from all sides. The images I’m presenting here represent the tenacity, the strong spirit, the ever-present efforts of women, both past and present, to make the right decisions based on our individual and united needs: the courage to say no with confidence, to step into our own as empowered beings, and to show our progress up the ladder of success.
Growing up in the sixties has influenced my work greatly. I was and I am an avid feminist and human rights activist. I work in film photography, painting and mixed media.
My work is part of the permanent photography collections of the Detroit Institute of Art, Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto, The Bibliotheque Museum of Paris, The University of Michigan Museum and The Kresge Museum, Michigan State.
“It is this artist’s hope that the work I have selected for this exhibit will touch your soul and mind, leave an imprint of beautiful justice, powerful womanhood, as well as soul and spirit growth and healing.”
Courageous Creativity is my touchstone and modus operandi.
Into the Looking Glass
How Women Look at Themselves
My quest for this show is to expose how women are perceived by society and the way women internalize damnation of themselves for not fulfilling the requests of the status quo. Women often hide behind their clothing and make-up and even starve themselves to fit society’s idea of beautiful.
The fact is that women often gaze into the looking glass and find things wrong, based on an illusion that says we all have to look the same. The monologues in many women’s heads may repeat the voices of critics, unkind individuals who have told them that they don’t measure up, in one way or another. Sadly, those degrading and bullying voices sometimes become their own.
My art represents a journey to find self-beauty, fight self-loathing, and rise above the unkind words of others and the constant barrage of media images telling us how good it could be, if we were only beautiful.
Through my art, I hope to share with other women that they are not alone in their pursuit to proudly own their self-image and to learn to love themselves. My art explores the victimization of women through the idealization that we all must be attractive, along with the damage done by the bullying of those around us that tell us, whatever we do we will not be good enough.
I hope to bring to light the realization that it is all in our heads and to empower women to see beauty on the inside and the gifts they possess.
What do mirrors know? They only see what’s on the outside.
We stand on the shoulders of others;
Supported by others;
Standing with others;
Strong with and for others—and for ourselves.
Art is akin to a silent Morse Code machine that takes a message from the heart and mind of the artist, encodes it as images, and transmits it to a viewer as a shorthand method of communication. “My work in this show, through paintings and mixed media pieces, will attempt to communicate an empowering and supportive message of women’s strength, resilience, and ability to bear open consciousness and emergent energy.”
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Women Strong (Morse Code)
The Gun Show
I spent a lot of time thinking about this project before I committed to making the work for it. It seemed much easier before I started the making process. I don’t mean the actual, physical making of the work was so taxing to figure out, I mean it has been psychologically difficult. It was easier when I was approaching the issue of mass shootings from a place of strong opinion and less knowledge. The project got much more difficult when I delved into researching mental illness, gun ownership, enforcement of current laws surrounding firearm purchasing and the details of each specific mass shooting.
I thought about the project in earnest for about a year and a half, but, if I wanted to be honest with myself, I’d have to go back to Columbine to find the source. Not that I had any intention of making art about such a thing back then, but that was one of the first shootings where children were the shooters AND the victims and when I first felt that the adults of society had really let down the next generations. We’ve let them down because of our unwillingness to talk about difficult things in a rational way or to compromise.
“Each gown represents a specific mass shooting in the U.S. I don’t have enough exhibition space to have a gown for every shooting. I used my sewing machine as a drawing tool, creating a layering of line that describes the weapon (s) used during that shooting.” I shocked myself when, after many drawings of guns, I admitted how sexy they were. The lines, the weight, the way they are designed to fit into one’s hand….
I can’t explain exactly where my ideas come from. I collect vintage handbags and appreciate them for their lines, use of material, the way they fit into my hand or over my arm. As I started designing and building the handbags with gun imagery, I realized how much I would want to own them if they weren’t already mine. The gold-leafed bullets as sequins, and gold- and silver-leafed guns on the handbags all seemed to make sense in a glorifying, distorted way.
I’ve continued my interest in using repurposed materials in these pieces. The acrylic is all repurposed, fabrics and materials in the purses are nearly all repurposed…even the evening gowns are repurposed. Initially I was going to sew the evening gowns from scratch, too, but it became important that the gowns had all ‘lived a little’, especially with the heavy messages they were being repurposed for.
It became clear that the evening of the reception needed to include live models for the gowns…young ladies at the beginning of their lives, full of potential.
There is an African proverb that says: “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” This is true because women are the first teachers of children; they not only educate, but also help make the journey through life more comfortable, appealing and beautiful. From the beginning of humanity, women have always imparted cognitive abilities to their children so that they will survive, often in a culture that was not reinforcing of their self-esteem.
I can’t think of a better example of this than Yemaya. In the African, Yoruba/Afro-Caribbean, religion she is the beautiful, ocean living, very powerful Orisha (goddess). She is also wise and the mother of all living things, and is a prestigious and mighty example of a women educating a nation. It is traditional women like Yemaya that has given women today their cognitive abilities, confidence and infinite worth.
In keeping within this sensibility, I work in a traditional African aesthetic, painting African symbols on repurposed furniture. These symbols are known as communication expressions: narrating information about the people who use them. They are used on clothing, jewelry, utensils and other objects, disclosing a person’s role in society. In Africa, women paint symbols on the outside of their homes, narrating information about the people who live there. The painted homes are statements of identity and ethnicity of the occupants. Through my art, I’m sustaining the beauty of this women’s work, by painting furniture, continuing the culture while creating something beautiful.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg shares many qualities of Yemaya, believing women should be independent, advocates of gender equality and equal rights for all people. Both encountered difficulties dealing with male-dominated, hostile environments. They are wise, strong-willed and in their individual way offer protection for the people.
Alga Washington is a mixed-media portrait artist whose subjects are usually strong, determined women, very appropriate since her birthday falls on International Women’s Day.
Alga finds inspiration everywhere and she loves interpreting her ideas in a bold and vivid color palette.
Within her artwork, Alga often incorporates metals, jewelry, and fabric.
She creates images that inspire joy, strength, courage, persistence, and reveal the beauty within all women.
This show, “When There Are Nine”, covers significantly new and haunting territory for me. It’s particularly about women and how their art conveys their thoughts, their hearts and most importantly, issues important to them.
My work shows both our vulnerabilities and our strong presence/resilience. It’s about my mom who I lost in February 2019 to dementia. Women are affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia more than men; 70% of new Alzheimer’s diagnoses will be given to women while research for the disease is focused on men.
It’s about the recent push back on women’s rights and showing that we will not be silenced. And it’s about standing up for others…Piggybacking on Jaimie Black’s installation work in Canada called ReDress and drawing attention to violence committed against women.
As women, we need to share our viewpoints on issues and think about where we are heading as a group. We need to stand up and be more direct, and more courageous, and use our collective power as women to say, we matter. We are moms, wives, daughters, sisters, grandmas, caregivers. We instinctively give but we deserve to receive as well.
And we need to vote for ourselves, for our future, for our daughters and granddaughters and mothers.
Art heals and reveals, things about ourselves, our society and our history. My work tries to bridge these concepts and inspire people to ask themselves questions about the human experience and assumptions we make. My fascination with how people see the world is both literal and metaphoric. If one person ever walks away from my work and is inspired to see themselves, others differently, then I have succeeded as an artist. Opens in New Window
The Gallery @ VT: Art Exhibition Schedule
2021 Exhibition SCHEDULE: TBA
Free and open to the public on most weekdays (except Township holidays) 10 am to 2 pm, during all public performances and by calling 734/394-5308, for an appointment. Schedule subject to change without notice.
Art Workshops Schedule
Each month a featured Art Workshop will be held that showcases a unique arts medium allowing participants to sharpen skills, get creative, or enjoy light refreshments while learning something new.
2021 Dates TBA
Workshop fees are $20 per person. Registration is required. For additional workshop information, call 734/394-5300.