Saturday, June 21, 2008

From Wall to Skin

Went to see the great Nancy Vandevender's excellent solo show at Emory's Visual Arts Gallery. The show, "Pink...Beyond Black and White" is part of a larger body of work called "Picking Cotton...Mississippi to Detroit," and is the result of Vandevender's thesis project while at Cranbrook.

The show is incredibly ambitious, mixing large color photographs with video, furniture, and digitally created wall paper of complex patterns (which covers much of the enormous space). Conceptually, the show is even more ambitious.

Part of the show statement, "This installation is the culmination of research that began as a look into the role of cotton and slavery in the historical and decorative evolution of the ruffle. Looking at how Victorian and European influences filtered into the Harlem Renaissance and how that era paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement, the artist is focusing on rearranging and recreating relationships through character development and set construction."

Say that three times fast.

VanDevender's aesthetic interest lay in the lacy delicacy of fabric and tattoos, drawing interesting comparisons between the two with the female body serving both as the canvas and also as the timeless subject. The female portraits could be viewed simply as the documentation of tattoos (whether real, unfinished, or created by VanDevender), but more than that, the figures seem to speak of the clash of past and present in their sagacious solitude, shouldering a burden of understanding. (yes, that's right, despite much talking out of my ass, I just managed to use the word "sagacious" in a sentence. Don't hate.)

This was one of the pinnacles of the show, all of VanDevender's interests and research clashing together into something spectacular. (take note of the photograph*) For me, this grouping of objects, in VanDevender's obscure style, best outlined her quest for the linking of the ruffle, the Civil Rights Moment, and "how [the] image is transferred culturally through both fiction and history."

The wall paper needs to be seen in person, though even then its difficult to absorb the detail of it.

The exhibition space is divided into four areas: "Dressing Parlour," "Parlour Games," "Parlour Performance," and "Tattoo Parlour" (which had the most layered and complicated wall paper which VanDevender extended onto the back of one of the models).

In the "Tattoo Parlour" the woman photographed had unfinished tattoos to which VanDevender added her own designs.

Another great culmination of elements, this must be what it all looks like in VanDevender's mind.

A detail of the wall paper, which also involves images from her portraits. *Remember this image?

Point is, go see the show, and since no one can talk about it like VanDevender herself (I'm floundering like a fish out of water) plan on attending the artist talk Wednesday, July 23rd 2008 at 7pm at the Emory Visual Arts Gallery. (and don't make my mistake, it's no where near the Carlos Museum.)

Show up until July 31st 2008.


Cinque said...

I wanted to get to the opening, but plans changed. Now I will definitely make sure I get to the artist's talk.

Oh, and by the way, "sagacious"? Oh no you di'nt!

Jeremy said...

Wow, this is amazing. I really want to see this.

Yes, "sagacious" was awesome. You shouldn't take crap from a man who uses words like "synecdoche." We're trying to do serious work here, guys.

: )