ArtsWestchester’s exhibition “She: Deconstructing Female Identity” is at their gallery in White Plains, NY and will be on view until June 25, 2016. The exhibit, curated by gallery director Kathleen Reckling, reflects on what it means to be a woman in contemporary America. Janet Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester writes in the show catalogue that this show is “In keeping with our vision of encouraging conversation on topics important to the community”. She said, “Modern American women are struggling to redefine themselves in the face of shifting societal values, changing perceptions of femininity and the choices between domesticity and executive leaderships”. These issues are explored by the Eleven Artists who were invited to present their interpretation of what it means to be a woman today.
There was a great variety of work: Marcy B. Freedman’s performance art is “You Are What You Wear” and Marcy took a wide range of clothes from her closet and asked attendees at the opening to choose an outfit from the clothes rack she had set up. She then put on the outfit and asked people what they thought she was expressing. Fashion, she said, is a language written by Society’s ideas and our own sense of style and sense, She presents the questions” Do I dress for me or the world? How do I want to be perceived? Am I what I wear? I’ve known Marcy for many years and find that her performance art often makes sense to me and raises serious social questions. As a Performance Artist Marcy feels that it is her goal to encourage real people to interact with real people in real time and in real space. She fears that many are relying too heavily on “virtual” forms of communication such as email, texting and social networking. Marcy also works in collage, Polaroid photography, video and sculpture. For more: marcybfreedman.com
Kathy Ruttenberg is a fine sculptor whose work I’ve been seeing in substantial galleries for many years. It was a pleasure to see her again and to spend a bit of time. The ceramic piece she has in this show is “Nature of the Beast” and is a large painted ceramic figure of a woman surrounded by nature- plants and animals 34″x84″x38″ and made in 2014 of ceramic, metal, wood. I don’t feel equipped to critique this work but suffice to say I have been fascinated by her figures as I would see them in various galleries in Manhattan when delivering ART TIMES over the past many years. There are layers upon layers of meaning and interpretation. Kathy writes in the SHE catalog “The journey I take through my soul while collecting subject matter that lurks deep in my psyche, is powered by the clay in my hands. My ceramics are expressions that can be appreciated on many levels. The beauty of the medium itself, with the alluring surfaces to the enchanted characters I use in my narratives, creates the allegory and symbolism infused in my work. The beast in us all, and the anthropomorphism that humans attribute to animal kind, is very intertwined in my subject matter: behavior that is both out of control and instinctual, that which is considered ‘wild.’ ……A natural force; the medium leads me to places of creation.” Kathy also works in watercolor and more of her work can be seen at kathyruttenberg.com
Laurel Garcia Colvin’ installation Beyond a Room of Our Own was a room filled with books furniture, paintings and other items that reflect the great contributions of women in art, science and literature. Laurel writes that she “dedicated this installation to all the women, past and present who have made my life and my daughters’ lives better, and who continue the fight for the rights of all girls and women around the world — and to my role models, my grandmother Dorothy and my mother Mary Lee, who taught me to speak up for my rights and for the human rights of all women.”
ArtsWestchester, established in 1965 as the Council for the Arts in Westchester provides leadership, vision and support to ensure the availability, accessibility and diversity of the arts in Westchester County. In 1975, they were named by Westchester County government as the County’s designated arts council and became one of several united arts funds in the country, providing grants and technical support to cultural organizations and artist residencies in the community. They occupy the 9-story People’s National Bank & Trust Building opened in 1929 and the first “sky scraper” in White Plains and offers performances & exhibitions as well as renting studio space, office space, rehearsal space and a great place to throw a party. The building was purchased in 1998 for over 1 million dollars and in Nov 2000, JP Morgan Chase retired the mortgage in effect donating the building to ArtsWestchester. For more information ArtsWestchester.org