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International Artistry: Exhibit portrays bonds between mothers and daughters

International Artistry: Exhibit portrays bonds between mothers and daughters

April 28
02:25 2016

Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer


The Bowllery restaurant off Avenue C is home to more than just worldly foods and hungry guests. While many restaurants have party or arcade rooms, the Bowllery has something else: an art gallery.

“The Art den,” known as tAd, presents works of art from people all over the world regarding societal issues. At the moment, tAd is hosting an exhibition that hits home to many girls’ hearts.

The exhibit titled “hers; me” focuses on the relationship between mother and daughter. It is a part of a larger, ongoing project at tAd called “Outskirts: Bodies, Places, and Identities” that aims to showcase the work of artists exploring gender issues in modern day cultures. Curator Araya Vivorakij began the project in 2015 as a way to bring together various viewpoints over a singular topic.

“I think that what art and exhibitions bring to the bigger picture or certain topics or ideas are various and different perspectives,” Vivorakij said. “We provide opportunities for artists from different backgrounds and different parts of the world to engage in such dialogue and to experiment with new forms of artistic expression.”

The “hers; me” exibit showcases the work of four artists from Florida to Ireland. Each work is different and allows for viewers to come to terms with their own ideas of what the pieces mean.

Vivorakij put out an open call for artists to submit their pieces. While she chose the pieces based on her overall intent with the exhibit, she said that each piece brings something special to the table.

“I feel that all the artists in this exhibit are truthful to their personal feelings and experiences,” Vivorakij said. “Each of them brings a different aspect of the subject matter to the exhibit. And that’s what makes the exhibition interesting.”

The pieces

Just as each piece in the project is different, each artist had her own personal experience related to the mother-daughter motif leading up to the creation of the pieces.

For artist Samantha Conlon, her three-photograph series titled “Daughters” captures a daughter’s closeness to her mother through touch, security and intimacy.

“I feel like the exhibition is an exploration of childhood feelings,” Conlon said. “It feels very sentimental and nostalgic to me — in a good way. Keeping in touch with the tender side of yourself is important to me.”

Through her piece, Conlon wants to show that intimacy and softness should not be seen in a bad light. Instead, it’s something that should be celebrated.

Yukari Nakamichi’s sculpture, Mom’s Skirt, hangs in front of Samantha Conlon’s digital print works Daughters. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

Yukari Nakamichi’s sculpture “Mom’s Skirt” hangs in front of Samantha Conlon’s digital print works “Daughters.” Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

“I think my work is a response to society’s general depiction and understanding of femininity and how sensitivity and softness are seen as a negative,” Conlon said. “I’d like it if my work expressed that or even allowed people to consider softness as strength.”

For Florida’s Flagler College art professor Leslie Robison, her piece resembles something different. The canvas painting, titled “Moth,” utilizes mainly text to convey meaning. The word “moth” is repeated through the painting, and Robison scribbles on the word to change it. It first is reworded into “mother,” then “smother.” The word is then completely marked out. The last word, very lightly, becomes “other.”

For Robison, coming up with the idea for the piece took longer than actually creating it.

“This painting started out as an index card that sat on my kitchen counter for a few months,” Robison said. “In this work I am both using language and being critical of it by changing the word and scribbling it out.”

In addition, Robison tries to break the “mother” out of society’s patriarchal structure through her painting.

“Since ultimately all of our experiences, feelings and opinions are filtered through culture, it is important to address how dominant cultural, with longstanding patriarchal values, guides these thoughts and feelings,” Robison said.

Another one of the pieces, “Lostalgea” by Sabina Tupan, shows a multimedia form of art and pertains to the overall theme of the exhibition. The five-minute video recounts her relationship with her grandmother, who to her was a mother figure.

Tupan had started filming her grandmother for personal reasons and had not originally thought of creating a film piece out of it. The dialogue between her and her grandmother takes place in two locations: a staged representation of a Romanian bedroom and the documented footage of her “Mamaie,” or grandmother in Romanian.

“[The film] is a result of nostalgia but also the creation of a space where the fear of losing each other is just a mere fantasy,” Tupan said.

The last piece, “Mom’s Skirt,” is a sculptural installation created by artist Yukari Nakamichi. The piece resembles the emotional care and comfort that moms provide for their daughters as it hangs from the ceiling as an oversized “skirt.”

Even though each piece has an underlying theme, Vivorakij hopes that people are able to make up their own conclusions about the works.

“What I really hope is that the exhibits, be it individually or collectively, will resonate with the viewers’ own personal meanings,” Vivorakij said.

Deeper messages

For Robison, although each piece in “hers; me” is different, they stand for the same thing at the root.

“It is really important that a variety of women’s voices are heard,” Robison said. “I think each of the pieces presented demonstrates a different point of view on the relationship between mothers and daughters and yet they all highlight how dominant culture affects these identities and relationships.”

The viewers are not the only ones that will be moved by the pieces. Even as the curator, Vivorakij said that participating in art that has to do with women’s studies will always provide new insights for her.

“Being a curator, I get the opportunity to mindfully look at each individual work, to contemplate about it and to intimately connect to it,” Vivorakij said. “And I love to work with the artists; they inspire me.”

Vivorakij hopes through the gallery to showcase not only art from all over, but for people to get a deeper sense of what is going on in the world around them.

Vivorakij has already begun planning the next exhibit that will be a continuation of the “Outskirts” project focusing on difference, to be held in July. 

“tAd is interested in engaging in and promoting contemporary art as a critical practice that speaks to the cultural, social and political aspects of everyday life,” Vivorakij said. “Hopefully [each piece] will be critical, mind-opening, inspiring and engaging at the same time.”

The “her’s; me” exhibit will run through May 6.

Featured Image: Yukari Nakamichi’s sculpture “Mom’s Skirt” hangs in front of Leslie Robison’s oil and graphite on canvas “Moth” in the tAd Gallery. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

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