"Herstory" exhibit reveals recurring themes
Posted by Alison Gillmor, CBC Reviewer | Thursday March 7, 2013
Detail of Eleanor Bond, "French Breakfast", 1984, handcoloured lithograph, 30 1/2" x 38 3/4". Collection of The University of Winnipeg. (Larry Glawson)
The name, Herstory, brings back the heady days of 1970s feminism, when issues concerning women, art and power were being thrashed out in museums, galleries, universities and art schools.
In many ways those issues are still with us: This is the first show at the University of Winnipeg's Gallery 1C03 to focus on the female artists in the institution's collection. Curated by Laura White, a graduate student in the curatorial practices program, the exhibition offers 25 works by 21 women artists, including big names like Eleanor Bond, Sheila Butler, Wanda Koop, Eva Stubbs and Diana Thorneycroft.
There are also historical works, including landscapes by Jessie Doris Hunt and Alison Newton.
Eva Stubbs. Self-Portrait with Skulls, 1999, charcoal and conte on paper, 41 1/4" x 29". (Larry Glawson)
Many of the early works are small watercolour scenes, while later pieces are usually larger in
scale, often exploring edgy social and political content. In Bond's French Breakfast, beautiful
food styling inexplicably bursts into flames. Butler's The National and the Journal hints
at fear and violence. As White asks in her catalogue essay, "At what point did 'feminine'
With a range of very diverse work, the show is not meant as an overarching definition of
"women's art." But there are recurring themes. Several works, such as Stubbs' Self-Portrait with Skulls and Thorneycroft's Self-Portrait in a Field of Dolls II, offer a profoundly physical sense of personal history. Others explore collisions of culture and nature, as we see in Rosemary Kowalsky's Hand Fork and Flower and Koop's beautiful Sightline--Blue Line.
In related programming, the U of W is also offering Female Impersonators, a screening of nine video works by Manitoba women artists (March 13, 7:00-9:00 p.m. in Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall).
Wanda Koop, Sightline - Blue Line, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 49" x 97". (William Eakin)
Curated by local performance and video artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, the event
Rebecca Belmore, Victorious (video still), 2007.
includes works by video pioneer Wendy Geller, along with recent pieces by Divya Mehra and
Rebecca Belmore. The program's subtitle, "Women Performing Women," explores the notion
that gender is a culturally constructed "performance" - and we're all doing it every day.
Herstory: Art by Women in The University of Winnipeg Collection runs from March 7th to April
6th at Gallery 1C03.
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