EXHIBITION: AUGUST 22 – NOVEMBER 17, 2017
CLOSING RECEPTION: Fri, 11/17, 5-7pm
JOINT LECTURE: Fri, 11/17, 5-6pm, with Wendy Red Star and Beatrice Red Star Fletcher
ABOUT | Contemporary Women Printmakers celebrates six internationally recognized women artists invested in printmaking, a process both physically and technically demanding. Featured artists include Hung Liu, Wangechi Mutu, Deborah Oropallo, Wendy Red Star, Alison Saar and Lorna Simpson. Hailing from many places around the world—Africa, Asia, and North America—these artists offer a diverse set of perspectives on a wide-range of themes pertaining to global culture. Each is critically engaged with content surrounding issues of identity formation—through gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, or economic class—and each employs figuration as a means to explore representations of the female body within contemporary art and popular culture.
The featured works demonstrate a broad variety of traditional as well as contemporary printmaking techniques, from woodcut to etching to offset lithography and digital prints.
Contemporary Women Printmakers is drawn from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation.
The Museum of Art is committed to the idea that a museum has a responsibility to recognize the creative talent of its region. Anna-Maria Shannon, Interim Director of the museum adds, “Our over-arching goal is to support creativity and innovation in students who can seek out divergent opinions, examine complex issues from a variety of perspectives and find meaning in the world.”
FUNDING for this exhibition is provided by the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Art Endowment, the Washington State Arts Commission, and the Members of the Museum of Art.
LOCATION | The Museum of Art is located on Wilson Road across from Martin Stadium in the Fine Arts Center on the WSU Pullman campus. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, noon – 4 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday. For more information please contact the museum at 509-335-1910.
Hung Liu (Chinese, b. 1948)
Hung Liu masterfully engages found historic source material—often in the form of 19th century Chinese photographs—with personal experience to develop themes reflective of historical authority, collective memory, politics, and identity. Liu’s subjects of prostitutes, refugees, street performers, Maoist soldiers, Chinese slave-laborers, and prisoners are juxtaposed with ancient and modern Chinese motifs of goddesses, heroines, and children to demonstrate history as a continual, affecting presence…living, active, and changing.
Born in Changchun, China in 1948 Hung Liu spent her early twenties working in rice and wheat fields during Mao’s Cultural Revolution before receiving an arts education degree in the 1970s. Trained as a social-realist painter and muralist, Liu earned an MFA from the University of California-San Diego in 1984 and is recognized as one of the first Chinese artists to establish a career in the United States.
“I hope to wash my subjects of their ‘otherness’ and reveal them as dignified, even mythic figures on the grander scale of history painting.”
Quote retrieved from National Museum of Women in the Arts, https://nmwa.org/explore/artist-profiles/hung-liu.
Wangechi Mutu (Kenyan, b. 1972)
Through juxtaposing heavily stereotyped images of African women with sexually charged images of nude African American women, Wangechi Mutu highlights cultural biases from opposing platforms: the African woman as an object of Western post-colonial fantasy, and the African American woman as the target of pornographic exploitation. Through merging these two identities into one single figure, the artist creates a dualism that questions male sexual-objectification of black women across time and culture. Mutu’s collages borrow from the aesthetic of traditional African craft and popular culture sources, such as fashion magazines and pornography, to intersectional narratives that illustrate what the Saatchi Gallery, London refers to as “contemporary myth-making of endangered cultural heritage.”
Originally from Kenya, Mutu moved to New York in the 1990’s to study Fine Arts and Anthropology at the New School for Social Research and Parsons School of Art and Design, later receiving a Masters in Sculpture from Yale University in 2000.
“Females carry the marks, language and nuances of their culture more than the male. Anything that is desired or despised is always placed on the female body.”
Quote from: Merrily Kerr, Wangechi Mutu’s Extreme Makeovers, Art On Paper, Vol.8, No. 6, July/August 2004. Retrieved from, http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/wangechi_mutu.htm.
Deborah Oropallo (American, b. 1954)
Deborah Oropallo breaks traditional conventions of portraiture to reveal underlying social perceptions of power by experimenting with historic and contemporary presentations of sexuality and gender. Her artwork represents a merging of traditional painting with technology using cameras and computers to superimpose 17th and 18th century portraits with sexually charged images of women in similar postures. The resulting juxtapositions remove the paintings of their historical narrative, and instead, reassigns the males depicted in the paintings to the same contextual plane as the more modern alluring females, drawing attention to dress and the subjects and their engagement with costume, spectacle, and gaze.
Born in Hackensack, New Jersey in 1954, Deborah Oropallo earned her B.F.A. from Alfred University and an M.A. & M.F.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. Oropallo is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Award, a Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation, the Engelhard Award and a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
“I use the computer as the tool, but painting is the language of deliberation that is running through my head. I do not want to just repaint an illustration of what the computer can do, but to push the pixels themselves as paint, and to layer imagery and veils to create depth and volume. Like painting, this process can engage nuance and subtlety. It also has the ability to alter an image in a way that no other medium can deliver or predict.”
Quote retrieved from the Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, http://www.gregkucera.com/oropallo.htm.
Wendy Red Star (Native American, Crow, b. 1981)
Through incorporating a variety of media in her practice, Wendy Red Star uses her art as a response to address the widespread misrepresentation of Native Americans in popular culture and examine the intersection between colonialist structures and Native American beliefs. Historic photographs like those of photographer, Edward Curtis, misrepresented Native culture by over-romanticizing Native Americans from a white perspective, which is still apparent in modern mainstream culture in the form of sports mascots or sexualized costumes. Humor and surrealism become a vehicle for Red Star as she investigates Crow culture in her work, which is simultaneously critical and celebratory—a tool for “decolonizing the way people are seeing things.”
Born in Billings, Montana in 1981, Wendy Red Star was raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in southeastern Montana. Red Star received her BFA in sculpture from Montana State University and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles.
“As a brown person, as a brown artist, your work is political … I don’t aim to do political work, but it becomes political because it’s talking outside the colonial framework.”
Quote from “Decolonizing Photography: A Conversation With Wendy Red Star.” Retrieved from, http://aperture.org/blog/wendy-red-star/.
Alison Saar (American, b. 1956)
Alison Saar infuses a multitude of cultural references and variety of sources into her artistic practice, including African and Haitian folklore, contemporary African American culture, Catholicism, and various other world mythologies. As a result her narrative-rich works address humanity in the broadest sense, poignantly expressing universal themes of family, fertility, hope, as well as darker human episodes of cruelty and violence. The female body is the conduit through which Saar explores these themes alongside historical legacies of American slavery and continued discrimination, as a corporeal reminder of injustices and to the resilience of African American women.
Alison Saar was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in an artistic and multicultural environment; her mother, distinguished artist Betye Saar, has European, Native American, and African American ancestors; her father, Richard Saar, an accomplished art conservator, is of German and Scottish origin. Saar received her MFA from Otis Art Institute where her thesis focused on African-American folk art.
“We are all responsible for the (social) environment and if we’re not actively trying to break these systems, we’re somehow participants.”
Quote retrieved from Alison Saar “Still” Exhibit Explores Race, Gender & Bias, WGBH News, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGuUno19Ghw
Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
Lorna Simpson has been at the forefront of conceptual art since the 1980s, and in that time, she has expanded, perhaps more rigorously than any other artist, investigations of African American identity as it dovetails with race, gender, and sexuality. Simpson has worked in film, video, and performance art, but is best known for her photo-text artworks pairing controlled studio photographs of anonymous black women overlaid with text fragments. Often clinical or oblique in meaning, the introduction of graphic text into her non-specific portraits and other works serves to interrogate the viewers’ assumptions of race and gender in contemporary culture.
Lorna Simpson was born in Brooklyn, New York, where she began her career as a documentary photographer. Her artistic approach expanded through travel and graduate education at the University of California at San Diego where her teachers included conceptualist Allan Kaprow, performance artist Eleanor Antin, filmmakers Babette Mangolte and Jean-Pierre Gorin and poet David Antin—an intrinsic combination that would help shape the work to come.
“For me, the specter of race looms so large because this is a culture where using the black figure takes on very particular meanings, even stereotypes, but if I were a white artist using Caucasian models, then the work would be read as completely universalist.”
Quote retrieved from Race and the Figure, https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/lorna-simpson-wigs-1994