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Women and the Changing Dynamics of Power at Woodland Pattern

Sep. 5, 2017
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It is sort of a jolt, seeing the blonde girl curled up on a Persian carpet on the gray wood floor. But this gallery, inside Woodland Pattern Book Center, is hosting an art show so rather than a crisis moment, is it a performance in this hushed quiet? Her closely tucked fetal position makes it rude to intrude, so turn your gaze to the art on the walls.

But it is not a performance, rather an installation. Kirsten Stoltmann’s Self-Portrait, Time-Out Doll in Fetal Position recalls similar figures by Kiki Smith, but here dressed in the clothing of youth. Isolated and wanting to disappear from the world, the figure conjures a childlike vulnerability that adulthood is supposed to suppress, speaking in object form messages from the psyche that often go unsaid. 

The exhibition, titled “Vicki, with an i,” is organized by Michelle Grabner and features six artists addressing what is described as “the changing power dynamics afforded women in western culture.” Within the 17 works on view, this plays out in various modes, from reclaiming fragments of art history to commentary on tropes of social identification.

An artist identified only as BZ recreates nature with paintings of animals on found rocks, making a menagerie of fancy, while Stephanie Barber reconfigures the world through video and collages in stop-motion. Katy Cowan’s Triple Still Life in wood is a sculpture with carved and layered flat forms that bring into three-dimensions cubist iterations of the world like a contemporary Georges Braque.

Stoltmann is the artist most featured in the exhibition, and her collages incorporating images like Playboy pin-ups overlayed with pictures and sequins are both ironic and pointed. I AM Open To Suggestions shows a nude and tan blonde women pouting for the camera while cut outs of handbags dangle from her breasts. The title is emblazoned in sequins, calling out the authoritative nature of consumer culture. “Vicki, with an i” reflects the way we may be roiled by or reclaim our sense of presence, from forces internal and external.

Through Oct. 1 at Woodland Pattern Book Center, 720 E. Locust St. 

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