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.
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 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.
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
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.view all articles from this author