Exposure 15: Re-Domestic

Heather Corley Yes, No, Maybe Photo: The Current

certainly uncertain
Heather Corley
photo: The Current

Originally posted on August 21, 2012.

From August 23rd to September 29th Gallery 210 will present Exposure 15: Re-Domestic featuring Heather Corley, Gina Alvarez and Deb Douglas. Emphasized by the title of this installation, the artworks created by these three women artists utilize traditional household crafts in each piece including stencils, glue and glitter, collage, flowery prints and paintings, as well as the most common stitching and sewing. Despite these familiar craft-themed objects, the manner in which they are utilized is by no means conventional.

Recalling the Dada artists of the 1920s, Gina, Heather and Deb used found objects to incorporate into their artworks. Although the Dada movement mainly used nonsensical assemblages constructed from everyday objects to comment on emotions associated with WWI, in this contemporary exhibit everyday objects are manipulated and arranged for the purpose of allowing the viewer to perceive them with an alternative perspective.

In Heather Corley’s piece entitled certainly uncertain, security envelope designs are transformed into price-tags which hang from three provocatively familiar, yet unidentifiable shapes emerging from the walls. Usually overlooked by most, the unique repurposing of these intricate envelope designs demonstrates Corley’s eye for aesthetics. The theme of domesticity is seen in the price tags, for women have a traditional reputation of loving to shop. Three words “yes”, “no” and “maybe” are die cut into the price tags, die-cutting being another type of domestic craft. The large-scale objects seemingly pushing through the walls are made of an every day material as well: pink insulation foam.

It is clear that Corley is fascinated by the multiple. From the thousands of “answer” tags hanging from the wall forms, to the similar yet slightly altered wall forms themselves, multiplicity is evident to the viewer.

“The idea of the multiple is the most sensual thing… if something is good as one, it is just fantastic as a hundred.” – Heather Corley

Corley’s three other pieces in the exhibit are made of unlucky lottery ticket collections, several of the same kind positioned side-by-side so that the repetition can be easily observed. Each grouping of tickets has a theme represented by a stenciled word. The piece unlucky in love presents a grouping of the same kind of lottery ticket with the word “love” stenciled repeatedly on each ticket. Glitter is used on the borders of her pieces as well as the stenciled words themselves. They are perfect examples of found objects transformed into a striking presentation.

pruning Gina Alvarez photo: UMSL Daily

Gina Alvarez
photo: UMSL Daily

Similarly, Gina Alvarez makes use of every day objects and women’s crafts as well by stitching and sewing together beads, fabrics, and other like materials in her artworks. Gina’s attraction, however, is more so towards embracing sexuality and personal desire while challenging the theme of domesticity. A series of blown-glass bell jars (an untraditional women’s art practice) hold intricate hand-sewn objects which tempt the viewer to touch them. The fact that these objects can never be touched exacerbates this yearning and perhaps emphasizes the confinement of what domestic craft-making represents.

“It creates this desire within the viewer to touch it. Like, “I want to touch it but I can’t touch it… so, in that way, there is this thing you desire that you can’t really have.”  – Gina Alvarez

One of Alvarez’s bell jar pieces, pruning, is particularly appealing. Two spheres, one positioned on top of the bell jar, the other directly below and inside the jar, are made up of many tiny red, fuzzy spheres. Below the encased sphere hang minuscule, fragile-looking paper objects each in the shape of a book. It is undeniable that one would want to snatch one of those little books and decipher it!

Alvarez’s works on paper are similarly enticing. The materials jump off the surface, evoking that same desire to touch them. Unlike her bell jar pieces, these seem more attainable as they are unframed, free of glass and traditional rigid borders.

Deb Douglas Prints photo: The Current

Deb Douglas Prints
photo: The Current

Beauty queens from the 1960s are represented in most of Deb Douglas’s exhibited artwork. Alongside and sometimes overlapping these women are unexpected images of more organic origin. This type of composition is reminiscent of collage, a common domestic craft that harks back to the Dada artist Hannah Hoch.

Biological elements such as cherries on the stem, leaves and blooming flowers overlap the faces of mid-twentieth century models in Douglas’s large-scale digital prints. The positioning of the natural components next to the more artificial women is a way for the artist to express her emotions from a distance.

“So, making artwork about some of these [personal] experiences through other figures and juxtapositions of imagery is a way for me to say this is about that experience.” – Deb Douglas

Douglas’s piece 10x depicts a brunette crowned with a tiara. She stares forward at the viewer with confidence as red roses awkwardly fall from her lipsticked mouth down beyond her photograph and land in the open jaws of a menacing rattlesnake. “10x” is printed below the woman, next to the snake. Although ambiguous, the meaning may lie in the questions conjured by the viewer after experiencing the piece.

Exposure 15: Re-Domestic will share a reception with the UMSL Fine Art Faculty Jubilee Exhibition and Michael Gitlin: Dust Studies at Gallery 210 on Thursday, September 6th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 


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