Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hide/Seek Northwest

Artists Holly Senn and Amy Ryken invite you to a reception for the group exhibition at The Space titled "Hide//Seek//Difference//Desire//Northwest,” a local level response to the nationally traveling exhibit Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture currently on display at the Tacoma Art Museum. The exhibit features 19 local artists from the Pacific Northwest, creating a PNW portrait of queer culture. 

Reception: Saturday, May 12, 7:30-10:00pm
Location: The Space, 720 Court C, Tacoma, WA 98402 (map)

Holly’s artist statement:
After seeing Jasper Johns’ painting Ventriloquist at the HIDE/SEEK exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum, I became interested in the painting’s coded messages and incorporation of references to other paintings. The Rubin’s Vase, made from the profiles of Johns and his partner Robert Rauschenberg, inspired me to make a work that referenced both this work and my own relationship with my partner, Amy. 

In creating the silhouettes of our faces I was again reminded of how androgynous our profiles looked, how femininity and masculinity are policed in society, and of an infuriating pamphlet I have in my collection of discarded library book materials, the 1953 “Helping Boys and Girls Understand their Sex Roles” by Milton Levine and Jean Seligman.  In this text the authors attempt to decode children’s behavior and give advice on how to force rigid sex role obedience while warning that failure to do so results in a variety of unpleasant outcomes, including homosexuality. In my portrait, the ambiguous nature of the figure-ground vase is a defiant contrast to the pamphlet’s exultation of explicit heterosexual-normative sex roles. Our pair of profiles stares down the tomboy section and reveals the intimacy between us.

Amy’s artist statement:
In this contemporary artist’s book I juxtapose conversations I’ve had with elementary students, inquiring about my gender, with photos of myself.  By making these conversations visible I question the binary framing of gender, consider how to foster dialogue about gender expression, and explore how gender is framed in elementary classrooms and society.  This work relates to two themes of the HIDE/SEEK exhibition, in particular the fluidity of gender and reflecting society’s attitudes toward the constructed gender binary.  This works relates to the goal of the Queering the Museum project by making visible how, while queer culture is often viewed as tangential in museums, history, and society, queer persons experience queer culture and perceptions of difference as a central feature permeating their lived experiences.

-Holly A. Senn & Amy E. Ryken

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