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Striking, Contemporary ‘Ohio Women to Watch’ Exhibit to Visit Multiple Cities

There’s only a few more days left to catch a provocative, contemporary art exhibit Downtown at the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery.

However, the exhibit, “A New World: Ohio Women to Watch 2023,” will be presented through the fall of 2024 at four other Ohio locations: Warren, Lima, Cincinnati and Portsmouth.

The exhibit, a collaboration with the Ohio Advisory Group of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, was curated by Sso-Rha Kang, of the University of Cincinnati, and Matt Distel, of The Carnegie in Covington, Ky., who in their statement noted they “sought an expansive perspective on how artists engage with the current world to consider its possibilities and strike a balance between the global and the local.”

The 11 selected artists produced striking and diverse works that consider a variety of topics: the environment, contemporary roles for women, pop culture and more.

Migiwa Orimo, "Strangers' Bundles: Hours of Woods," 2022, mixed media

One of the most impressive is by the Tokyo-born artist Migiwa Orimo, who lives and works in Yellow Springs, Ohio. “Strangers’ Bundles: Hours of Woods” is a mixed-media installation that investigates past and present Ohio forests. One panel in the work offers postcard-like snippets of woodland history including the sounds of Cicadas in 2021, a mysterious ailment that rendered birds blind that same year, how the woods became outdoor sanctuaries during the COVID-19 pandemic, and an 1846 quotation from a father to his son: “Remember the side of the tree that the moss grows on and the light of the North Star is the way to Canada.”

Calista Lyon, "Breaking Water," 2022, mixed media

Also addressing the environment is the Australian-born Columbus artist Calista Lyon. In “Breaking Water,” she assembles 15 television sets in a circle, each showing videos of dams being exploded and allowing backed-up rivers to “return to themselves.” The work addresses the notion of “ecological grief” – loss, fear, sadness and dread – even as it instills ecological hope.

In “Maybe the Moon Doesn’t Want Us,” Sharon Koelblinger, of Kent, Ohio, created shadowboxes with mirrors inside (viewers see themselves) and minimal strips of floral scenes or fabric on the outside – a consideration of the fragility of human memories and perspective.

Cincinnati artist Xia Zhang ponders “otherness” and the concept of belonging in the somber “Fearful/Avoidant,” with photos of herself standing at a shuttered window and prone on a couch. In bold neon lights, the words of the title accompany the photos.

Upending the concept of “women’s work” is Dayton artist Mychaelyn Michalec, whose “There are Two Roles for Women” is a pink rug adorned with the startled black and white faces of five women.

Kara Gut, of North Olmstead, is represented with paintings and an arching installation of plastic crates fitted with fans. Kristina Paabus, of Cleveland, has a series of free-standing sculptures and design-like, architectural images in collagraph intaglio, linocut and letter press.

Pop culture finds expression in the works of several artists.

Erykah Townsend, of South Euclid, puts familiar icons (Mr. Rogers and Airhead candy, for example) into huge, slightly uncomfortable wall hangings.

Kat Burdine, of Cleveland, adds the treads of Birkenstock shoes on the floor in front of their work that references astronaut Anne McClain’s look at her estranged lover’s bank account from outer space. The work, “This Just Isn’t Working Out w/Greetings,” travels around the corner into a closet.

Cathrine Whited combines common culture objects (a tennis racket, bag of sugar, pajamas and more) with their labels, printed in grade school letters on grade school paper.

And in a small, enclosed gallery, Thu Tran has fun with a video of cats (real and toy) and her “Waterfall Massage Chair” built of rocks, silky threads and plastic flowers.

Each work merits thoughtful study as well as a look at the artists’ statements, available in a notebook in the gallery.

“Women to Watch,” the recurring program of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (whose renovated building in Washington, D.C. is scheduled to reopen this month), is intended to spotlight emerging, underrepresented artists. While the Riffe Gallery exhibit will close soon, “A New World: Ohio Women to Watch 2023” will go on tour: Oct. 20-Dec. 27 at the Medici Museum of Art in Warren; Jan. 13-March 9 at ArtSpace/Lima; April 5-June 2 at the Weston Gallery in Cincinnati; and July 11-Sept. 7 (2024) at the Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center in Portsmouth.

Source : Dispatch



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