Thursday, March 26, 2015

Her Story at SPSCC

Published in the Weekly Volcano, March 26, 2015

Behold Fire by Doyle Fanning

The latest art exhibit at South Puget Sound Community College is a group show called “Her Story.” As described in the show announcement, this exhibition “contributes a verse to the volume that is the creative feminine. The works of six invited artists … consider the multiple facets of the creative feminine experience — personal, contemporary, art historical, and visionary.”

The artists are Yukiyo Kawano, Jeana Eve Klein, George Le Masurier, Doyle Fanning, Erika Navarette and Joyce Polance. All but one are women.

Most dramatic and most outstanding to my way of thinking are Kawano’s two hanging sculptures and two paintings, and Fanning’s “Behold … A True Story.”

Kawano’s “Little Boy,” 2011 and “Little Boy,” 2015 are actual size depictions of “Little Boy,” the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Kawano’s bombs are made of kimono, bamboo, hair and dye. The pieces, like sections of a kite, are sewn together with hair. They hang from the ceiling in the middle of the gallery. The delicacy of the materials in contrast with knowledge of the destruction of property and human life wrought by the explosion of the bomb creates a mind-boggling spectacle with the added shudder brought on by learning that the pieces are sewn with strands of the artist’s own hair. She is a third generation hibakusha (nuclear bomb survivor) who grew up decades after the bombing of Hiroshima.

In addition to these, Kawano is showing two paintings in oil on canvas. One is a picture of a woman, probably a geisha, being dressed by a servant. The other is a single female figure with three crustaceans pictured above her. In both paintings the figures are partially obliterated by paint applied in such thin washes (most likely with turpentine) that the running drips eat away paint in multiple tiny rivulets. In the one with the crustaceans, the canvas is burnt or ripped away in places. As in the two “Little Boys,” the image is of destruction combined with feminine delicacy.

Fanning’s “Behold … A True Story” is a suite of 10 small images, each with a little white girl in a natural environment. When I say white I do not mean Caucasian. I mean the figures appears to have been cut out, leaving the white silhouette of a figure in each. Each image also has printed on it a sentence or two from a story, so that reading left to right, by the time you get to the last image you’ve read the entire story. It is an intriguing and well-presented series.

By the way, you can see more work by Fanning in the current exhibition at Childhood’s End Gallery in downtown Olympia.

Le Masurier is a retired newspaper editor and photographer who is showing a set of six black and white digital images of contemporary people in everyday settings and activities, each indicative of their own personal story.

Navarette is showing six pop-art paintings of women engaged in activities such as cooking and planting potted plants. Her lush and luminous colors glow like the cheeks of a girl by Renoir. Polance is showing a 12-by-nine-inch and a 12-by-16-inch oil painting of nudes with similar lush pink tones in heavy impasto paint. These are like Navarette’s paintings but with better use of negative space and even more luscious colors.

Finally, Klein is showing a series of small works in fabric with hand-stitched French knots on cotton. The formats look like doilies but the clusters of knots look like abstract paintings — difficult to describe but amazing to look at. Be sure to study them closely.

Her Story, Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. and by appointment, through May 1, Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery, South Puget Sound Community College,
Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia, 360.596.5527.

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