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Exploring Activism With Art at Wave Hill


Mariam Ghani, Black Coal Dust #1 from the series Landscape Studies: New Mexico, 2008-10. Dye transfer print on aluminum © Mariam Ghani & Erin Ellen Kelly. Courtesy the artists and Ryan Lee, New York, NY


By PAUL LASTER
, JUN. 2017 

Reacting to issues of gender inequality that have inundated society since the dawn of time, the group exhibition “Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness,” which is on view at Wave Hill’s Glyndor Gallery through July 9, 2017, presents contemporary art in a variety of media by thirteen international artists confronting these critical concerns.

Taking the paintings and works on paper of artist, feminist and activist Nancy Spero as a point of departure, “Outcasts” explores three central themes from Spero’s engaging body of work: finding a voice, hybrid alternatives to the status quo and healing and empowerment.

 Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness, April 8 - July 9, 2017, Glyndor Gallery, Wave Hill. Installation view: Nancy Spero. Photo: Stephan Hagen

Chitra Ganesh presents a new installation of an accumulation of layered drawings and paintings on paper of everyday and mythological women—including unicorns—with the collection of images and other layered materials forming a giant eye on the gallery wall.

Scherezade Garcia also deals with myth through her pair of mixed media canvases depicting the Santeria goddess Yemaya, the great mother who lives in and rules over the seas. Drawing upon her own life’s journey from the Dominican Republic to New York, the artist uses black and gold paint to reference the African diaspora and swathes of swirling white paint to allude to the waters migrants perilously traverse.

Samira Abbassy, Healing Fluids, 2011. Leather, hair, doll parts, intravenous tubing & paint. Courtesy the artist

Samira Abbassy addresses the treatment of women by way of cultural identity with her dollhouse-sized effigies and objects. Exploring conventions and myths from Arab-Iranian, Persian, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist traditions, Abbassy, creates an altar-like display of miniature sculptures of women caught in a series of seemingly surreal scenarios.

Employing photography and video, Mariam Ghani confronts forgotten histories with women as protagonists, Yee I-Lann puts folkloric tradition in a contemporary context, Huma Bhabha draws attention to figures on the edge of society, Kris Grey blurs the boundary between genders while exploring the notion of non-conformity, Zanele Muholi stages self-portraits that examine skin tone, and Tracey Moffatt attempts to capture the energy of spirits haunting places with problematic histories.

Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness, April 8 - July 9, 2017, Glyndor Gallery, Wave Hill. Installation view: Fay Ku, Kris Grey and Nancy Spero. Photo: Stephan Hagen

Rounding out the group, Jaishri Abichandani’s clay figurines boldly convey her vision of a matriarchal society, while Marie Watt embroiders blankets with symbolic imagery to explore Native American myths and Fay Ku finds the feminine in hybrid forms by mixing humans with animals and vegetation in her drawings, both of which finely relate to Spero’s works featured in the show—three vertical scrolls that employ ancient Egyptian vulture goddesses and Greek Gorgons with snakes and scarabs to comment on atrocities still afflicting women in her time that regrettably continue today WM 

Jaishri Abichandani, Before Kali 40, 2013. Clay wire, wood, paint, varnish. Courtesy the artist
 

Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness, April 8 - July 9, 2017, Glyndor Gallery, Wave Hill. Installation view: Marie Watt and Samira Abbassy. Photo: Stephan Hagen
 

Yee I-Lann, Landscape, 2016. Giclée Print on Hahnemühle photorag paper. Courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York, NY
 

Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness, April 8 - July 9, 2017, Glyndor Gallery, Wave Hill. Installation view: Mariam Ghani, Nancy Spero and Huma Bhabha. Photo: Stephan Hagen
 

Chitra Ganesh, Untitled, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco, CA
 

Zanele Muholi, Thulani I, Paris, 2014. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NY
 

Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness. Installation view: Scherezade Garcia and Fay Ku. Photo: Stephan Hagen
 

Fay Ku, Dogwood, 2015. Mixed media on layered and cut sheets of drafting film mounted on plexi. Courtesy the artist

 

Paul Laster

Paul Laster is a writer, editor, independent curator, artist and lecturer. He is a New York desk editor at ArtAsiaPacific and a contributing editor at Whitehot and artBahrain. He was the founding editor of Artkrush.com and Artspace.com and art editor of Flavorpill.com and Russell Simmons's OneWorld Magazine; started TheDailyBeast.com's art section; and worked as a photojournalist for Artnet.com and Art in America. He is a frequent contributor to Time Out New York, New York Observer, Modern Painters, ArtPulse and ArtInfo.com.

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