Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Medusa’s Mirror: Fears, Spells and Other Transfixed Positions" exhibition features eight artists creating work addressing the disabled body

From Pro Arts. Pictured is Laura Swanson's "Peggy Lee," 2008.

Medusa’s Mirror
Fears, Spells and Other Transfixed Positions
Curated by Amanda Cachia

September 13 – October 20, 2011
Reception: Thursday, September 15, 6–8 pm
Guided Tour by Carmen Papalia: Wednesday, September 21, 2 - 4 pm
Artists’ Talk: Friday, October 7, 6–8 pm

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Pro Arts presents Medusa’s Mirror: Fears, Spells and Other Transfixed Positions, a new exhibition curated by Amanda Cachia. The exhibition features eight artists creating work addressing the disabled body. Selected artists include Joseph Grigely, Neil Marcus, Carmen Papalia, Katherine Sherwood, Laura Swanson, Sunaura Taylor, Sadie Wilcox and Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi. The exhibition is on view September 13 – October 20, 2011 at Pro Arts’ gallery in downtown Oakland. An Artists’ Reception is scheduled on Thursday, September 15, 6 – 8 pm. The Artists’ Talk will take place on Friday, October 7, 6 – 8 PM. Exhibition and events are free and open to the public.

In Greek mythology, Medusa was viewed as a monster, and gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers into stone. Inspired by this myth, the artists in Medusa’s Mirror address the able-bodied gaze upon the disabled subject - often viewed with fear, curiosity or wonder - by turning the gaze upon the viewer. This shift allows the disabled subject to claim agency and gives cause for the able-bodied viewer to reflect on their own frameworks. The piercing gaze as interpreted through medicine are explored in Katherine Sherwood’s mixed media paintings and Sadie Wilcox’s examinations of the roles of patient, caregiver and doctor. The medicinal gaze is further skewed into the world of the sideshow in the work of Sunaura Taylor, articulating the point of tension in the gaze.

Several works draw from the ruptures between the able-bodied and the disabled. Deaf artist Joseph Grigely’s explores the ruptures and failures of communication, pointing to the rift between spoken and signed language. Blind artist Carmen Papalia’s guided walking tours leads the closed-eyes participants to experience the world using their other senses - primarily sound and touch. Visual representations of the body and our relationship toward body image are thoughtfully explored in Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi’s latex sculptures and in the discomfort reflected in Laura Swanson’s photographs. The body is further addressed in Neil Marcus’ drawings, an extension of his performance practice, which grapples with mobility and movement as one with dsytonia. The works in Medusa’s Mirror bring to light the able-bodied gaze upon the disabled subject and in turn point to the vulnerabilities and fragilities commonplace with all human beings.

Medusa’s Mirror is curated by Amanda Cachia, The exhibition is part of Pro Arts’ annual open call for exhibition proposals. Pro Arts’ visual arts programming is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

About Pro Arts
Pro Arts supports the arts within communities by serving the ongoing needs of artists. This Oakland-based arts organization provides critical access to contemporary art in the region and serves as a regional hub for arts activities, independent curated exhibitions, advocacy, and capacity-building artist services. Pro Arts’ visual arts programming showcases the best new work made in the Oakland/Bay Area, including cutting-edge, risk-taking contemporary art, and important works by artists representing under-served populations and communities of color, and working artists. Pro Arts provides fiscal sponsorship to artists and professional services matching artists with community partners. Additionally, Pro Arts’ Youth Fellows program integrates arts education, exhibitions, arts training, and youth development. Last year Pro Arts exhibited 690 artists and produced 62 events drawing an annual audience of 72,000.

For more information, please contact:
Jackie Im, Interim Exhibitions and Programs Coordinator - or 510.763.4361