CINNABAR is pleased to present “FEMININE/FEMINIST,” opening Thursday, MAY 4th from 6:30 to 9:00 PM. This exhibit features eleven artists from around the country and world. Their work is highly diverse, yet each piece deals with the intersection of femininity and feminism. Pop culture often makes it seem as though one cannot display feminine characteristics and still be a strong, confident feminist. These works have been chosen because they display the multi-faceted nature of womanhood and what it means to be feminine and a feminist.
Lalla Essaydi, a world-renowned artist born in Morocco and now based in New York, will show at Cinnabar courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York and Zurich. Essaydi creates captivating photographs of Arab women draped in clothing covered with Arabic calligraphy and with henna covering every inch of visible skin. Calligraphy is traditionally a male art and has been kept from women, making these photographs quietly subversive images. However, the women wear highly feminine types of dress, even full veils in some cases. The contrast between the brazen display of calligraphy and the femininity of the clothing and henna allows us to contemplate the complexity of Arab female identity.
Sarah Fox’s fantastical work is a meditation on motherhood and loss, enacted through the attitudes and poses of surreal, mutant creatures – a snake-unicorn or a flower-witch. The non-binary nature of these beings is a statement about “otherness” and the experience of being deeply female yet deeply and markedly different. Fox will be showing a stop-motion animation film along with the collage that inspired it.
Christian Fuchs’s work is a stunning example of the performative nature of gender. The Lima-based artist dresses up as his own ancestors, who were featured prominently in portraits and photographs throughout his childhood home. He then photographs himself as the ancestor, becoming the perfect likeness of even a great-great aunt from the 19th century. His work allows us to find the past in ourselves and to see clearly the incredibly malleable nature of human personality and appearance.
Carina Hiscock is a San Antonio based artist who primarily works with natural materials that are often overlooked or not considered to be an artistic medium. She is interested in controversial aspects of the natural world – women who choose not to remove their body hair, for example – and how society reacts to artwork that uses such elements as a medium.
Jack McGilvray lives and works in San Antonio. Her work makes use of documentary practices, such as photography, video, and narrative in order to tell stories of personal identity, especially as it relates to women as an integral part of a family unit. Her drawing featured in this exhibit is a whimsical comment on parents’ views about their daughters’ femininity (or lack thereof).
Ashley Mireles creates art that focuses on the Chicana community and volunteers at many non-profits throughout the San Antonio community. Her painting in this exhibit alludes to the many constraints that women are faced with – the watchful, policing eye of society and the impossible beauty standards they often feel the need to live up to.
McKay Otto’s widely acclaimed work explores the possibility of three-dimensional painting, and his sculpture hints at a sense of femininity with oblong, gently curving shapes. His work seeks to show how humans can be transcendent or “trans-dimensional” beings by juxtaposing a meditative element with a focused intensity. His new totem sculpture, “Ever the Pivot Point Ever,” contains woven thread gathered from various countries around the world. The traditionally feminine practice of sewing contrasts with the powerful totem shape in this truly unique sculpture.
Kristy Perez’s beautiful drawings deal with highly relatable themes such as mortality, human relationships, and illness. Her life-size drawing of “Venus,” portrays the natural sort of pose a woman may take when alone, freed from the impetus to appear at her best or most beautiful. She’s perfectly feminine yet also completely unaffected and unhampered by societal restrictions.
Marianna Rothen’s engaging photograph comes to Cinnabar courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery, New York. It is part of a series entitled “Shadows in Paradise,” in which Rothen portrays women who are struggling to cope with highly idealized notions of self, shattered illusions, and the derangement that comes with realizing perfection is out of one’s grasp.
Laura Stevens was born in the UK but is currently based in Paris, France. For “Feminine/Feminist,” she will exhibit a photograph from her series called “Another November,” in which narrative photographs in domestic landscapes tell stories of intimacy, relationships, and loss. The women in her photos exude strength and stability in the midst of heartbreak.
James Tisdale, based in Georgetown, TX, creates sculptures in the Southern Gothic style, inspired by his youth spent growing up in Mississippi. His ceramic piece in this exhibit references the Freudian Madonna-whore complex. Often, woman are seen as either pure and virginal or as obscenely taken over by sexual desire when, in fact, women are neither one nor the other. His piece entitled “Transcending” portrays the fear of judgment that women feel regarding sexual relationships, but it also celebrates how women can rise above these unjustifiable labels.
In curating “Feminine/Feminist,” care was taken to portray work that is strong, soft, fearless, tentative, and intelligent. Although the majority of artists are female, we have also selected male artists who illustrate the same ideas through a different perspective. We invite you to enjoy this eclectic show with us and hope you will discuss what your opinion is regarding the intersection of feminism and femininity.