Influenced by the cultures of her upbringing, Italian-American artist Monica Lundy, Investigates the histories of disenfranchised communities—specifically women who have been deemed inferior or called “deviant” for being too liberal. Growing up in Saudi Arabia, a country that is known for gender inequality, Lundy has experienced the double effects of feeling marginalized as a woman and foreigner in another country. As well, Lundy extracts the histories of women’s disenfranchised from her own Italian heritage—focusing on the archival documentation of women’s incarceration and mistreatment during the fascist regime of Mussolini. Lundy is driven by bringing awareness to the socio-political issues and ideologies that have marginalized groups throughout time and lends a voice to the women who have been deprived of their rights for centuries—all of which still holds relevance today.
Opening reception Friday, October 15, from 5-7 pm.
The exhibition is available on our site here.
The 3rd in a series of exhibitions treating the role women have played in art history. Opens March 5, 2021 at Turner Carroll Gallery. Titled “Renegades,” the exhibition follows two previous exhibitions titled “Can’t Lock Me Up” (2019) and “Burned: Women and Fire” (2020).
This exhibition celebrates the unveiling of the sculpture “L’implorante” by Camille Claudel, widely recognized as her most important work currently available on the international art market. Other editions of this sculpture are found in permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musée Camille Claudel, and others.
1864: Camille Claudel, born in 1864, has become known as one of the most important women artists ever to live. She moved mountains to pursue her art on her own terms. Camille convinced her entire family to move to Paris, so she could attend the only art academy that accepted women—L’accademia Colorrosi. She was so committed to carving her own path in the art world that even when the great artist Auguste Rodin became smitten with her skill and independence, she showed great reservation in starting a relationship with him, insisting instead that she must be her own artist, not a reflection of him. This initial indifference to his advances caused Rodin to refer to Claudel as “my fierce friend,” or my “sovereign friend.”
Eventually, when Camille Claudel decided to take part in a sexual relationship with Rodin, she declared it must be on terms she dictated. In 1886, Claudel willfully demanded Rodin sign a contract she devised which included the following conditions: a promise to renounce other women, including favourite models and prospective students, to bring her along on his travels, and to marry her in 1887. In return she agreed to receive him in her studio four times a month. If Rodin did not meet the demands she set forth, the deal was off. He didn’t, so she called it off and renounced the male artistic master and all the trappings of success, public art commissions, and acclaim that he brought with him.
In her quest to find her independence and support herself as a woman artist, Claudel worked hard to secure a state commission for an ambitious sculptural group of three figures. The state commission was granted for her work titled L’Âge mûr (1902). The grouping features images of Claudel herself as L’implorante, a young nude woman beseeching a man (sculptor Auguste Rodin) to stay with her instead of being swept away by an older figure representing death. Auguste Rodin was at that time on the selection panel for French public art commissions, and because he found Claudel’s sculpture so threatening, her public art commission was suddenly cancelled. Claudel’s fight for the sculpture she believed in resulted in her being at odds with the artistic bureaucracy.
Claudel dug in her independent heels, and decided to embark upon a body of work dealing with interior emotions of women. Her works were unusually courageous for the time, candid in communicating emotional and physical pain, loneliness, and desire.
“My sister’s work, which gives it its unique interest, is that it is the whole story of her life.”
-Paul Claudel, poet and diplomat, brother of Camille Claudel
Claudel was a renegade in renouncing both social and artistic norms of her era. She was a renegade in that she created her own terms to live by, much like she created the unconventional contract she had Rodin sign.
1913: While Claudel herself was sent to spend the last 35 years of her life at a sanitarium due to her norm-defying behaviors, her insistence on doing things the way she deemed appropriate paved the way for women artists who came after her to do the same.
1939: Twenty-six years after Claudel’s family had her interned in a mental institution for her bold artistic actions and her outrageous act of choosing her artistic career over having a family, Judith Cohen, now known as Judy Chicago, was born in 1939 in the U.S. Like Claudel, Chicago was artistically talented from a young age, was fiercely independent, and pursued her artistic career with a vengeance. Also like Claudel, she was a renegade. She forsook the coldness of masculine conceptualism and the testosterone-driven assertions of dominance over the land by cutting into it, moving it; manipulating it, in favor of color and concept that were inherently true to her uniquely feminine perspective. Chicago embraced vulvic imagery and colors descriptively female, like pinks, purples, and other pastels. Her iconic collaborative work “The Dinner Party” was inclusive, rather than exclusive. She didn’t compete with women artists; she invited women from far and wide to become part of her artwork that highlighted the contributions of women throughout history. Today, Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” is considered the capolavoro of feminist art history.
1948: When Judy Chicago was nine years old and already taking the bus alone from her home in Chicago to the Chicago Art Institute for art classes, Hung Liu was born in Changchun, China. She came from a long lineage of intellectuals, and her father was an officer in the Nationalist army of Chiang Kai Sheck. Liu’s father was ultimately placed in a labor camp, where he spent the rest of his life. Liu and her mother burned all their family photographs that included him to escape retribution, and fled to Beijing. Liu was recognized very early in life for her extraordinary artistic talent. Because of her brilliance, she was placed in the top high school in Beijing, where Mao’s daughters also attended. There, Liu witnessed her principal be beaten to death by young woman zealots of the Red Army. She watched her math teacher jump to his death from the school grounds, and she saw her classmates beat another teacher to death with shoes, while he was belittled and forced to crawl on the ground in front of his students. Liu endured “re-education” during Mao’s imposed, eponymous Cultural Revolution, in which she was removed from school and forced to toil in the wheat fields in the Chinese countryside for 364 days per year. Though these times were undeniably tough for her, Liu’s determination to pursue her artistic career drove her. She hid a German camera and a watercolor set under her bed, and every day she took time to paint or to photograph her experiences. 35 of her “My Secret Freedom” watercolors are now in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and photographs she took with that German camera will be exhibited at her Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery retrospective in 2021.
1984: When artist David Hockney visited China and the prestigious Central Academy of Art, where Hung Liu and other Chinese luminaries like Ai Wei Wei studied, he met “Ms. Liu” and was so impressed by her work and her countenance that he wrote about her artwork in his China Diary. Liu was determined to leave China for U.C. San Diego, to study contemporary American art movements like Happenings. She persisted in waiting four years–deferring her admission to UCSD each year while she waited–for the Chinese government to finally grant her a passport to pursue her artistic career. An only child, she left behind her mother, with her two year old son to care for, to pursue her artistic dreams. Since arriving in the U.S. in 1984, Liu’s artworks have been collected by more than 50 major museums in the country, from the Whitney Museum of American Art, to the L.A. County Museum.
1970-2010: Both Judy Chicago and Hung Liu dedicated a portion of their careers to teaching women artists to persevere and prosper, as well as sharing their network of dealers, curators, and art critic colleagues. Among the recipients of their shared wisdom were three artists that are making their own name for themselves in their own authentic voices today. Judy Chicago has adopted as her “radical daughter” the street artist known as Swoon, born Caledonia Dance Curry. Swoon regularly collaborates with Chicago on social activism projects like Create Art for Earth, joined by both Jane Fonda and über-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist of Serpentine Galleries in London. Swoon is renowned for inspiring an entire generation of female street artists, with her large scale humanistic wheat paste murals. Her works are now in major international museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London.
Hung Liu is the beloved mentor of artists Monica Lundy and Lien Truong, artists of Italian and Vietnamese progeny, respectively. Both artists have assumed the mantle of proselytizing for the disenfranchised in their artworks. Lundy uses traditionally female media like porcelain, coffee, and burned paper in her depictions of women who were incarcerated for being renegades. Crimes like being too loud, disobedient, or promiscuous landed these women in sanitoria, just as they had landed Camille Claudel in an asylum and silenced her artistic voice one hundred years earlier. Lien Truong singes antique silks and historic textiles blended with 22 k gold threads, and fuses exquisitely detailed abstract painting to tell the stories of racial and gender-based injustice.
New Mexico-based Agnes Martin, Raphaëlle Goethals, Karen Yank, and Jamie Brunson share a vision that is tied to the sanctity of the land. Rooted in the horizon line that is unfettered by vegetation, providing the feeling that one can see forever, these artists present the maverick notion that within simplicity of mother earth lies the most pristine experience of creative joy one can ever experience.
The women in this exhibition are indeed Renegades. They take the legacy of women artists and carry it forward into an apotheosis of success. Their manifesto is to be true to their uniquely female artistic vision, and they succeed beyond measure. Turner Carroll is proud to present this exhibition during Women’s History Month, honoring the contributions of women artists throughout history. Please join us in celebrating their accomplishments.
-Tonya Turner Carroll
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Etsuko Ichikawa: Making a Pyrograph
Special Judy Chicago exhibition and event to benefit Through the Flower
July 26, 2020 from 2-5 pm at Through the Flower Art Space in Belen, NM
Burned: Women and Fire
Artwork in the exhibition may be viewed here.
Fire is one of the most potent symbols in human history. It purifies, illuminates, destroys, and transforms. “Mother Earth” has fire in its core. That magma—hot, molten rock—is an igneous rock. The name igneous comes from the word ignis, which means “fire” in Latin. This fire sporadically pushes its way through cracks in the earth’s crust and erupts from volcanoes, burning everything in its path to create a way for new life to emerge from the magma. Wildfires act in the same way, coming by surprise, expanding exponentially, and consuming fuel in its path, while simultaneously opening some types of seed pods for future growth.
The first civilizations in the Near East revered forces of nature and their enormous and only modestly predictable impact on daily life. Later, they would be personified as deities. Many ancient cultures saw fire as a supernatural force: Greeks maintained perpetual fires in front of their temples, Zoroastrians worshiped and regarded fire as pure wisdom that destroys chaos and ignorance, and Buddhist cultures practiced ritual cremation to purify the body upon its release from the physical world.
When early religions began transferring attributes of forces of nature to specific deities, many cultures equated fire rising from “Mother Earth” with archetypes of women. The Sumerian goddess Lilith had a fiery ability to control men. In Egypt, the serpent goddess Wadjet used fire like a snake spitting venom to burn her enemies. In the Philippines, Darago was the warrior goddess associated with volcanoes. Roman goddess Feronia was associated with the energy of reproduction and the fire beneath the earth’s crust. These ancient goddesses were fierce and powerful, and they used fire as their tool.
As male rulers took political, religious, and economic power through organized conflict, the diminution of women’s power was the result. Instead of depicting women as independent forces of nature, biblical authors described them pejoratively as harlots and sinners. These authors used fire to symbolize the guiding presence of God, and Abrahamic religions embraced the destructive power of fire as the wrath of God. In the Torah/Old Testament story of Eve, her bold pursuit of knowledge was as terrifying as a fiery natural disaster. When Eve was in the Garden of Eden she “saw that the tree was good for food…and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her.” “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” Adam said, as he successfully blamed the woman for his choices and actions. The male God then cursed all women for Eve’s independent decision-making and disobedience: “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow…and thy husband…he shall rule over thee.”
Those words of condemnation, and words like them in other male-dominated institutions, attempted to change societal perception of women from personification of fire, and its natural ability to create and destroy, into the scorned embodiment of sin. Just as early Roman Christians built churches on top of pagan temples and later placed the orb and cross atop obelisks they looted from ancient Egypt, governments usurped female power by forcing a narrative of male moral, intellectual, and physical superiority. These institutions took archetypically “female” fire as their own symbol, using it as their weapon to control and limit women’s minds, bodies, and potential. Examples of this include doctors in pharaonic Egypt using fire to cure “hysteria” by forcing the uterus (hystera) upwards. Caught between the English and French monarchs, Joan of Arc was burned alive in 1431 despite being credited previously for the French victory at the Siege of Orleans. In early modern England, women were burned at the stake as a legal punishment for a range of activities including coining and mariticide. In 1652 in Smithfield, Prudence Lee confessed to having “been a very lewd liver, and much given to cursing and swearing, for which the Lord being offended with her, had suffered her to be brought to that untimely end.” She admitted to being jealous of and arguing with her husband. For this, she was burned at the stake, as were thousands of other women. In the late 1850s, The Industrial Revolution produced gauzy new fabrics that when made into funnel-shaped dresses, ignited instantly upon being touched by a spark. Their flammability made them death traps for women, preventing them from safely doing ordinary things men could do, such as lighting a match, standing close to a fire, or smoking a cigarette, lest they be burned alive.
Tragically, women are still burned to death by men today. In New Zealand in 2011, a groom doused his bride with flammable liquid, set her on fire, and left her by the side of the road to die so he could obtain a higher dowry from another. In 2015 in New Guinea, four women were tortured and burned for sorcery. Acid-burning is at an all-time high, occurring from the United Kingdom to Southeast Asia. In India and Pakistan, widows are sometimes burned with their deceased husbands in his funeral pyre, and the highly suspect “kitchen fire” is all too common. In contemporary honor killings, families burn their own daughters and sisters for making unapproved decisions about their own marriage. The United Nations estimates that as many as 5000 women are killed annually world-wide in honor killings. Today, this act is not illegal in such modern nations as Jordan.
It is no wonder the element of fire is ingrained in women’s collective memory. Fire represents women’s power and their torture. In women’s own hands, it is their independent creative spark; in the hands of those who want to suppress them it can destroy their very lives. Burned: Women and Fire features artists who—like the alchemical Phoenix who burns and rises from the ashes anew—integrate their collective experience with fire and burning to create their art.
Tonya Turner Carroll
Can’t Lock Me Up: Women Resist Silence
Opening reception Friday, March 29, from 5-7 pm.
Artwork in the exhibition may be viewed here.
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful. We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan
A massive, global problem exists in our shared human history. Since the beginning of civilization, women’s biology has been used against them in attempts to silence them, shame them, and to limit their access to education and power by locking them up literally or metaphorically. Perhaps born from fear of the sheer power women inherently possess in their ability to create new life, society has weaponzied the female body through language, images, and the threat of sexual violence. It’s time to admit this problem exists, examine how society perpetuates it, and do everything in our power to solve it.
Part of the problem is the pejorative language we use to describe aspects of female biology–from menstruation to menopausal hormonal, appearance, and emotional shifts. Women who are bleeding are called “dirty,” “cursed,” and forced to endure “ritual sequestration”—a euphemism for ostracization of women from society during menstruation. In Nepal, women are forced into menstrual huts where they sometimes die. UNICEF, the U.N. child advocacy agency, reports that in Zambia, school attendance becomes less consistent after fifth grade because most girls lack access to feminine hygiene supplies. This keeps women from receiving the education that would help them enrich not only their personal lives, but their entire societies.
Universally, women are called “hags” and “witches” as their aging skin sags and their worth as objects of beauty is diminished. From the second millenium B.C. in Egypt, women were deemed “hysterical” when they displayed emotional behavior connected with monthly hormonal shifts. The Greek physician Hippocrates believed women became “hysterical” when their uterus (hysteron) was not sexually satisfied, and that the only cure for female hysteria was sex. If a woman rejected sex to “cure” her hysteria, the explanation was that she was “possessed” by a “demonic” type of mental illness, for which one cure was fire, as in the later practice of burning a witch at the stake. The Latin word for woman, foemina, is formed from fe and minus, that is she “who has less faith.” As Phyllis Chesler points out in her Women and Madness, it comes as no surprise that due to these associations of insanity and deviance with female hormones, many patients in early mental institutions were menopausal women. Artist Monica Lundy explores this trend of locking women up and silencing them by labeling them “crazy” for behavior such as “flirtation” and “disobedience.” She paints images of female inmates of a Roman mental institution, using coffee, charcoal, and burned paper.
Another part of the problem is the way images have been used throughout history to reinforce these pejorative stereotypes of women. Female nudes in museums rarely look the viewer in the eye, but are depicted with a diverted, subjugated gaze instead. When female public figures express their legitimate outrage, they are quickly discredited with photographic images featuring them with mouth open, finger wagging, wild-eyed demonic rage. It’s as if when a woman uses her power and her voice, she is seen as the embodiment of Lilith herself. Conversely, when men express anger, aggression, pain, or sadness in images, they might be thought of as powerful, passionate, assertive, professional, or sensitive. Thus, the way we have historically used images discredits women even before they speak, shunning them into silence and perpetuating belief in their inferiority.
Perhaps our biggest societal problem is how women have been historically subjugated through sexual violence. Sexual violence is a gender-based hate crime; the UN describes it as “a problem of pandemic proportions. Statistically, at least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise physically or emotionally abused in her lifetime.” Forms of such sexual abuse include female infanticide, forced prostitution, genital mutilation, forced abortion, honor killings, dowry violence, rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, marital rape, stoning, flogging, sexual trafficking, forced marriage, denial of medical care, and sexual slavery. These crimes hurt women psychologically, sexually, and physically and leave them feeling broken, fearful for their safety, and in pain.
Though 189 countries ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in the 1980s, horrific crimes against women persist. Soraya Manutchehri was buried to her waist then brutally stoned to death in Iran for “being an inconvenient wife.” Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for speaking out for girls’ right to attend school. More than 400 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted from their school and forced to marry their captor-assaulters. 7000 Yazidi women and girls have been repeatedly sold as sex slaves in ISIS-controlled Syrian markets, and over half of them are still enslaved. Myanmar’s troops systematically raped Muslim Rohingya women to spread terror and force them to flee the country. Rwandan military raped virtually every surviving Tutsi female over the age of 12 in the Rwandan genocide. Femicide is still prevalent in China; according to a current UN report, femicide is often conducted in “the most cruel means” such as stabbing, beating and strangling, which, it said, reflects misogyny. “This means there has not been success in changing the cultural patterns that devalue women and consider them disposable, allowing for a social permissiveness in the face of violence and its ultimate expression, femicide,” the report said. Artist Hung Liu has devoted her entire artistic career to preserving the memory of these otherwise forgotten, nameless women forced into sexual submission.
In the U.S., rape culture is rampant as the media normalizes sexual violence. Popular culture dismisses the profane, insulting words U.S. President and sexual assault perpetrator Donald Trump uses to describe the way he habitually assaults women as merely “locker room talk.” U.S. citizens tolerate their President using language such as “low IQ individual,” “unhinged,” “nasty,” and “blood coming out of her…everywhere” to vilify women. Through the normalization of this type of misogynistic and violent language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, we perpetuate a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.
Why do women remain silent about these human rights tragedies they endure? How could it be that women could have helped elect someone so dangerous to their safety and dignity? Equally confounding: why would an undeniably accomplished, confident, qualified first woman presidential candidate–stay silent while a man far less formidable than herself invaded her debate space? Why was she pushed to publish her chocolate chip cookie recipe to gain public trust? Because we accept social norms demanding women act with such courteous and deferential self-control. From a young age, boys’ rowdiness is tolerated, while girls are rewarded with praise and good grades for their silence and social composure.
What can we do to solve this problem of subverting and silencing women? We can take every opportunity to speak out about the ways women have been enslaved mentally, metaphorically, physically—throughout the world. Rather than just describing the atrocities, we can demand action on their behalf, and we can take action ourselves, no matter how small. We can call out societal degradation, discrediting, and sexual domination of women when we perceive it. Turner Carroll is proud to exhibit women artists from throughout the world who speak the truth for themselves and their sisters who might have a harder time finding their voice. Artists like Fatemeh Baigmoradi, whose photographs with controversial members burned out of them help us remember a tragic history. Artists like Hung Liu, who has dedicated her life to painting disenfranchised women as quasi-imperial, transforming their pain into beauty, telling their stories with a grace they did not experience in their lifetimes. Artists like Lien Truong, who uses traditionally feminine media such as painted silk, 24-karat gold thread, and embroidery to tackle international issues of domination and resistance in her paintings. Artists like Judy Chicago and Jenny Holzer, who had to be loud and brash with their words and images when they started expressing these sentiments even before feminist art was defined. Artists like Sheri Crider, whose art expresses transformation of incarcerated women, and Monica Lundy, whose paintings tell the stories of women placed in mental institutions simply for not being silent.
It is our responsibility as human beings to speak up and act out on behalf of the women who make up half the world’s population. In the words of 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Yazidi former ISIS sex slave Nadia Murad: “If we do not want to repeat cases of rape and crimes against women, we must hold to account those who have used sexual violence as a weapon to commit crimes. I do not seek sympathy, I seek action.”
Tonya Turner Carroll
Turner Carroll Gallery