Arts » Art Reviews + Features

Jennifer Myers' new and recent work emphasizes the spirit of Everywoman

This exhibit has a feel of immediacy, more akin to outsider art than to academic finesse

by

comment

Jennifer Myers' exhibit Women in Time might look, at a glance, like a group show, but the connections between the parts are strong and all serve a common purpose: to honor women. Where Judy Chicago's 1979 masterwork "The Dinner Party" celebrated specific women and their accomplishments, Myers' recent work here emphasizes the spirit of Everywoman.

The exhibit is anchored by the display of trophies and memorials to women past and present that Myers has created. A long, low pedestal features "The Never-Ending Book of Women's Rights," a sequence of "pages" made of colored pencil on slate, "an ongoing record of the women of this world." Adjacent is a stack of blank slates on which Myers will create tributes to women whom gallery visitors have noted in the guestbook as someone they know, love or remember.

Another major component of the exhibit is a series of assemblages constructed on discarded trophies, with each refurbished trophy meant as a tribute to each and every woman. "First-Place-Woman: Carrying Boulder" (2013-14) features a mixed-media tchotchke of stone and beads set on a small plinth. Unexpectedly, it's presented not as a sculpture but rather as a color photograph of the assemblage set against a bold color background, which adds festiveness. Other photographs in the series, with subtitles such as "Telling Stories" or "Dreaming," incorporate modest materials such as sticks and wire, along with suggestions of animal or human figures. All women are seen as deserving awardees.

Yet there is a special place here for exceptional and accomplished women. "The Lucy Lippard Reading Chair and Simple Reader," and a similar tribute to Nancy Spero, are each accompanied by an artist's book created by Myers, consisting of a photographic portrait, key quotes and brief biography. These chair/reader units make the point that the exceptional can inspire us while prompting us to value that which is not recognized as exceptional.

This exhibit has a feel of immediacy, more like to outsider art than academic finesse. Myers is art-educated and clearly aware of her forebears, many of whom, like her, eschewed technical mastery to speak more directly from the heart. This is 21st-century feminism — not toned-down post-feminism — the work of which is far from done.

Add a comment