So I’ve visited this show four times. Each time I scrutinized the works until my head hurt. Let me try to simplify things for myself and you can follow along.
- Her use of the female figure relates to Vicki Meek’s work. Ms. Meek uses the image of glamorized women for female empowerment.
- The racial stereotype and the graphic style relate to Deborah Roberts’ prints of pickaninnies.
Vicki Meek’s work presents the ghetto-fabulous woman as a hero and leader. She stands a top a pedestal comprised of famous political female leaders and icons. She is protected or strengthened by the chanting of the Yoruba scripture and the piece is bejeweled with cowries.
- Positioning the person as a guiding post of the community reflects what Joyce Owens paints in her work.
- The religious text and the adornment are similar to the feel I get from Amalia Amaki’s quilts.
Joyce Owens painted static and colorful portraits to remind us that there are everyday heroes to compliment the more celebrated names in our communities. Their stoic postures and traditional dress stablize them as pillars, but the bright colors show them as positive influences.
- The colors of the painting mirrored the colored costumes of Cauleen Smith’s video and installation. And although the chracters have a colorful presence, they look like everyday people.
Cauleen Smith has six monitors sitting in front of a green circle painted on the wall. Each loops a film at different intervals, so there are some monitors screening different scenes while there are others playing just a few seconds from each other.
- The use of the television suggests a modern day equivalent to “family time” that Amali Amaki suggests with her quilts. I don’t think quiltmaking was a family activity, but I do see the more domestic qualities in both equaling each other.
- The repetition of the screens call out across the gallery to the repetition of the pickaninnies by Ms. Roberts.
Amali Amaki presented the most difficult work for me to evaluate. Her quilts were covered with screenprinted faces that I had difficulty identifying. Besides that though, I recognized the buttons as both elements of treasure and of binding. Binding in the sense of holding things together. The ironing marks served as evidence of use and the small writing added intimacy.
- The repeated, printed image went well next to Deborah Roberts work.
- The domestic characteristics of the quilts gathers the everyday as most important. Similar to who Ms. Owens celebrates.
Deborah Roberts uses the same concerns as the other artists and mixes it all up. I see the contemplation of how black women are viewed from Ms. Charlton, Ms. Meek, and Ms. Owens. But what differentiates Ms. Roberts is the whimsy that looks more like Ms. Charlton and Ms. Smith. If I had to guess, I would say Ms. Roberts bridges the age gap between the more traditional looking work and the more contemporary.
Maybe its because I have recently been thinking about Austin’s east side and how it relates to the rest of the city, but i think this show was very much needed. Women and Their Work do a great job of mounting solo shows, but sometimes it takes more than one person to enlighten the community to some serious issues. I see and hear conversations about relationships, tradition, education, sexuality and culture all interacting and conversing with each other and about each other. You know what? This show was GREAT. It wasn’t as slick as I like my contemporary art, but it had plenty of depth to think about and lots of surface to enjoy.
I’ll tell you ’bout what I sees.