I am so pleased to be included in this exhibition curated by my friend Lauren Amalia Redding. The show will take place on May 20-June 10, 2017, at the Rockport Center for the Arts in Rockport, Texas. I am sharing her Curator's Statement with you here:
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
– from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
In the quote above, Jane Eyre asserts her independence to Mr. Rochester. For a “poor, obscure, plain, and little” governess to forge her own life was revolutionary and breathtaking when Jane Eyre was first published in 1847 under Brontë’s pseudonym of Currer Bell. The reader realizes that Jane is hardly obscure or plain, but rather an empowering heroine who defies convention to create her own destiny with self-sufficiency, intelligence, and dignity.
To create art is also an act in self-sufficiency, intelligence, and courage ... and the eleven women artists in No Net Ensnares Me assert their own independent wills to make. Fastidious technical knowledge, exploration of materials, and emphasis on craft and skill demonstrate that these artists, and their artworks, speak in a voice as clear as Jane’s.
Veins race through Andrea Williams’ linocuts, their placement as predetermined as their biological purpose. Branches race through Aimi Li’s ink drawings, winnowing in and out of larger masses and sometimes tapering into smaller vignettes. These symbolic and sometimes guttural pathways weave through Williams’ bodily interior and Li’s organic exterior, though the nature of—and in—both their works makes the viewer wonder if Williams’ veins wear more like fresh scars, or Li’s branches may delve under pensive surfaces.
Veins play a large part in Diana Corvelle’s work, as well. Veins are shown as a map of her subject’s fastidiously rendered gouache-and-cut-paper body, and links serve as a metaphor for two other subjects, signifying their shared pulse. Incidentally, Charis J. Carmichael Braun uses her instinct for pulsing chroma to anchor her studies of nudes in nature as solidly as the rocks surrounding them. Her lucid, confident paint application balances the enigma of her subjects’ pools.
Alaina Plowdrey’s subjects, like Carmichael Braun’s, divine the aquatic. Her lush oil paintings intertwine wood grain with grains of sand, and act as tropical windows into the thoughts of her dreamy subjects and distant shores. The thoughts of Maud Taber-Thomas’ subjects are more convoluted, illuminated by their literary inspiration, her bold brushwork turning her subjects—the peers of Dorian Gray—into what she calls “Fop Art.” Whereas Taber-Thomas’ figures lounge, Tabitha Whitley’s hide and explore ... and all scrutinize. Whitley utilizes the vibrancy of pastels to create portraits that not only explore her roots, but serve as a record of—and testament to—her ancestry.
Monica Olsen and Amber Thorpe are the two artists who work three dimensionally. Olsen’s cheeky sculpture provides a satisfyingly snarky commentary on popular culture, which is executed in refined, minimalist white. Thorpe’s ceramics are a divergence from the popular culture at which Olsen pokes, serving as tactile, handmade objects antithetical to the silliness of trends. Their volume sits as warmly as baked goods, yet their precision recalls the recurring geometry of nature.
Mary Anne McCarthy and Lauren Amalia Redding are the two figurative draftswomen of this exhibition. McCarthy’s frank works recall the sophistication and post-Gothic lines of Dürer, while Redding’s naturalistic silverpoints may recall his Italian contemporaries. McCarthy encapsulates youth in an aged locket; Redding depicts age as defiance. Both are unapologetic in the depiction of their female subjects, whether they are looking to delicate jewelry, astute glances, or wrinkled hands to encapsulate their characters.
No Net Ensnares Me isn’t a political manifesto as much as a wan nod to the will of women artists and the voices with which they create.