Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mark of the Feminine at the CAC

Even by the standards of large institutional survey shows, the CAC's Mark of the Feminine expo of works by local women artists covers a wide range of styles and visions. The sheer diversity may seem daunting at first as we are confronted with artworks ranging from meticulously linear concoctions like Monica Zeringue's large graphite She Wolf self - portrait, top, and Gabrielle Gaspard's intimate intaglio print of female hands impossibly bound with delicately thin thread, to raucously outrageous works like Sarah Sole's satiric paintings of Hillary Clinton acting out in unlikely situations and Vanessa Centeno's large, surreal soft sculpture Get it Up, below, which suggests a very lurid looking sea anemone from outer space during mating season. Curated by Regine Basha, the works in this show are united by their psychological aura and suggestive ambiguity, though exactly what they suggest depends entirely on you. More broadly, it's like a travelogue exploration of the far corners of the female psyche, local garden variety, as interpreted by local lady artists.

While some, like Zeringue, are well known, the show features an especially rich assortment by less familiar and emerging artists. Emblematic works include Kristin Meyers spookily spectacular Annoint sculpture, left, which suggests a synthesis of an African spirit fetish and hoodoo bottle tree, and resonates a feral tribal vitality. A related sensibility appears in Armina Mussa's Ana-Beaucoup, bottom, mixed media photo-collage of a dusky woman shrouded in a crown of flowers and mounted in a sackcloth frame. Similarly vibrant, if more familiar, textures appear in Cherice Harrison-Nelson's Rise Up Queen Suit, her shamanistic Mardi Gras Indian-suit rumination on impermanence, continuity and traditions that transcend time. Wry commentaries on modern lifestyles appear in Susan Ireland's vivid canvases of offbeat social encounters in colorfully painted barrooms, and in Ronna Harris's realistic Marital Bliss painting of elegant bedroom ennui. Here Basha's fecund mash-up--her meandering psychic estuary of a show--proves that, around here at least, more is sometimes actually more. ~Bookhardt

Mark of the Feminine: Mixed Media Group Exhibition by New Orleans female Artists, Through Oct. 4, Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St.; 528-3805.