Pix of Current Solo(s) Art Shows, Part 1
There are presently four art exhibitions under way at Solo(s) Project House. I attended the opening reception last Friday, and took too many fotos to show in one blogpost, so will deal with the most prominently hilited exhibition, Shoshanna Weinberger's "What Makes My Hottentot So Hot" (on view January 27-March 2).
The dark shadow in the foto above was cast by a structural pole that wasn't always there. I don't know how recently it was installed, but I consulted my fotos of the same area from earlier shows, and it wasn't there.
Here is the description of the Weinberger show from the Solo(s) email notice.
Weinberger presents a body of work that is driven by the history of exposé, beauty and form inspired by the real-life story of Saartjie Baartman the "Hottentot Venus."
"I find Baartman's life both captivating and horrific; living as a specimen perpetuating the myth of "otherness" that can still be found today fascinates me as a woman and an artist."
Weinberger identifies with Baartman physiologically and politically, making personal connections of awkwardness as a female growing-up in a society obsessed with attaining beauty result in imagery that depicts this as distorted excess. Malformed and decapitated bodies, with long cornrow braids, un-kept locks, and pigtails, mutations of multiple-mouths, nipples, breasts, and buttocks, create a sense of familiarity, confusion, humor and tension.
Contemporary connections of Baartman's subjugation are found in references to modern-day strip-club dancers, West-Indian Dancehall performers, cultural stereotypes, Hollywood icons, prostitutes and circus sideshow freaks to name a few. These figures are tangled, hogtied and suffocated with props associated with femininity such as thongs, bras, high-heels and jewelry. Forms are placed on a scallop shell akin to the mythological Birth of Venus story. Incorporating Botticelli's Birth of Venus scallop shell into a new psychology of presenting the birth of femininity found in bars and graffiti stalls declaring love found or lost. These drawings allude to the psychology of coexisting in human and animal form as well as forms grotesque and sexualized.
Weinberger was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to Jamaican-mother and American-father. She currently resides in Newark, New Jersey. She completed her undergrad degree at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received a masters degree from Yale University, Yale School of Art. Exhibiting for the past decade, Weinberger's work has been glorified across the country at the Spertus Museum in Chicago, Illinois; The Jones Center for Contemporary Art in Austin, Texas; and Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art in Miami, Florida just to name a few. She has also been featured in the National Biennial Exhibition National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston in 2006 and 2008.
After I had taken fotos of the artworks, I looked around the room and guessed who might be Ms. Weinberger. Then I asked Rebecca Jampol, principal of Solo(s), if the artist was there, and she said yes, then introduced us, telling her that I have a blog about Newark. Sure enuf, it was the woman I had guessed. I told her that in these exhibitions I like to take a foto of the artist by their favorite work. She looked a little startled or flustered, as artists sometimes are when asked to select their favorite piece. But she had one, this one, a 3-dimensional piece employing a mirror as well. I told her that I had taken a couple of pix of that already and thought it was too low to show in the same foto with her.
So she chose a larger and higher 2D piece. I told her that I had decided, in looking around at the crowd, that she was probably Shoshanna Weinberger, from the description in the email, because she had a Jewfro/Afro thing going with her hair. She smiled to say she could see that. I took my customary two fotos, one with and one without flash. I have tried and tried to decide between them, but couldn't. So I show both. You decide which is better. Here's the one with flash.
Here's the one without.
The reception was very well attended, with people spread out thru the original Solo(s) space at the back of the building, the lobby, and the Stage Eatery, Gallery + Venue space at the front of the building.
The bulk of the artworks are large-format and intensely colorful.
Most are 2D, but there are two brite, reflective sculptures, also intense in color.
For more info and pictures of her artworks in various categories, check out www.shoshanna.info. Solo(s) Project House is located at 972 Broad Street (Newark, NJ 07102), just south of the Rodino Federal Office Building. It is free and open to the public, Wednesday-Friday from 12-6pm.