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Reflections on the work of contemporary artists

Women Heavy at Gardenship Gallery (Excerpt)

Throughout the group exhibition Women Heavy at the Gardens Gallery in Kearny, NJ, curator Donna Kessinger references contemporary and second-wave feminist ideas. The curator aims to create a clinical and visceral experience by investigating broad concepts and featuring among many notable others work by Charlie Spademan, Gwen CharlesJeanne Brasile, Josh Knoblick, Judi Tavill, Kasia Skorynkiewicz, Charlee Swanson, Lauren VroegindeweyKristin J. DeAngelis, Michael Angelo, Richard GainesSuzan GlobusVikki MichaliosA.V. RyanDonna Conklin King, Anna Ehrsam, and Doris Cacoilo. In our interview curator D. Kessinger sheds some light on her curatorial vision.

You say that the show Woman Heavy represents LGBTQ+ and BIPOC Artists and describe it as “fiercely honest, feminist, soulful, edgy.” Tell us a bit about what we can see in this show.

Women Heavy opines non-traditional and sometimes controversial subject matter along with work that shines with positivity, sending the message that we are all in this together.  With Hopeful and This is not who we are… the message of Charlie Hewitt’s light-based sculptures shines a glow of unity that fills the gallery and sets the vibe for other work with radical feminist undertones. Works that actively question identity politics, including the Virtual Reality video of A Womxn Destroyed and Transnational Threads by Amanda Stojanov and Linh Dao.

Alison Pirie’s Hysterical is seemingly fun, with a touchable, toy-like first impression, until you realize how out of control her tiny laser-cut wooden body appears in the hands of multiple viewers, who pull her string again and again, making her legs and arms open and close and eventually flail out of control. A Razor Blade Or Any Tool Will Do depicts the tools used in the deplorable practice of female genital mutilation by Nisha Sondhe. Danielle Scott’s sculpture Griff and We did not Enslave Ourselves, featuring a human-scale wooden cross, cast metal noose, and a metal cart with the memory of the rope embedded in the sand, is intensely and sadly historic.

The handmade paper installation by Amanda Thackray, Spring Shower / Field of Tears, is enchanting. Laia Cabrera and Isabelle Duverger’s QUALIA – You Matter to Me immersive media installation offers a moment to process and reflect. Amy Faris’ Breast Shield protects visually, while Andrea McKenna’s Uprooted looks over the gallery with calm serenity and Earth Mother’s wisdom. Megan Dyer’s Autumn Pieter, Ladies of the Lake, has a mirrored biograph offering a timeline and a detailed description of the subject next to the pigmented layers of color on white paper. Brigitta Varadi, HUNIA Reflection, silk, merino wool, raw wool, threads, acid red dye, video performance, the site-specific piece is a reminder of the strength people find during the unrest and rebuilding life afterward.



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