New works by Lucy Clark, Caroline Daley, Christina Foard, and Sharla Valeski are featured in the upcoming exhibit femme deux. The brainchild of multimedia artist Valeski, this second annual show celebrates womanhood, interdisciplinary creation, and empowerment. “I saw some significant all-female exhibitions in New York City in the 90s and loved them,” explains Valeski. “They were so often naughty and tough and reminded me of women saying: ‘look what I can do.’”
While femme deux is gender-specific, Valeski explains that the impetus and tone of the exhibit is based more on the inclusionary possibilities of the journey of the female artist, rather than any prejudice against their artist brethren’s parallel excursions. “So now I’m asking what women artists are saying now. What are they exploring and are those explorations vastly different from those of our male counterparts?”
The artists featured in femme deux, presented at Jacksonville, Florida’s CoRK Arts Districts, address those very-same explorations in divergent and engaging ways in this 40-piece exhibit.
In lieu of using glazes for textural or tonal effects, ceramicist Lucy Clark creates an array of hand-built clay vessels fired in sawdust using the Pueblo-style method and then burnished with a small quartz stone. The technique produces some pieces that harken back to classical pottery forms; others are highly contemporary shapes born from innovative techniques that appear to writhe and unfurl on the pedestal, pushing the medium of pottery to a-near saturation point.
Caroline Daley combines her skills as a jewelry maker and assemblagist and directs those disciplines to the form of tactile, layered, and texturally-rich canvases. Daley uses materials such as candy wrappers, buttons, cloth, and an array of rendered insects to conjure up imagery that evokes such diverse visual signifiers as pastoral scenes and religious iconography.
Christina Foard is known for her strong involvement in local, community-based visual art projects, as well as her own personal creative endeavours. Foard’s work is based on an intuitive process of pouring, spraying, sanding, scraping, and carving paint – which culminates in narratives inscribed through abstraction that she compares to a pathway to open, embrace, and resolve memories.
While Sharla Valeski is well-regarded as an installation-based artist who works with large-scale sculptures, she is equally adept at navigating media such as ink, watercolour, and graphite. Valeski’s work successfully balances playfulness with the provocative. Her contributions to femme deux include an installation of clusters of multiple pod-like forms with twine; a separate piece features a series of postage-stamp-sized orbs. “They have been my response to juggling motherhood, business, and studio time,” Valeski explains of these latter pieces of sphere-shaped works that resemble juggling balls. Yet they are contained within box-like structures that are a kind of counter-balance to her usual large-scale ideas. “With these, I have the cathartic exercise of controlling a very small space.”
Valeski’s criteria for choosing artists for femme deux have thus far been that they be established female artists who have long since left art school and in the meantime have integrated their experiences of care giving, family, and careers with their artistic visions. “A big part of femme deux is making art approachable,” Valeski explains. “And the way I feel today, I would prefer to keep it small and focus on promoting a few women at a time.”
femme deux, 16 November until 30 November. CoRK Arts District’s West Gallery, Jacksonville, Florida, USA. Since CoRK Arts District is a working-artists’ studio space visits are by appointment only and can be arranged by calling (904) 707-0030 or visiting corkartsdistrict.tumblr.com
Daniel A. Brown
1. Sharla Valeski, Large scale installation; cloth, twine and fiber stuffing. Courtesy the gallery
2. Lucy Clark: Embrace burnished clay vessel. Courtesy the gallery
3. Christina Foard: Beasts in my Garden. Courtesy the gallery
4. Caroline Daley. Courtesy the gallery.