Women’s Herstory Month: The BRIC Biennial
In celebration of Women’s Herstory Month, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the immensely talented women artists in the current exhibition at BRIC, the BRIC Biennial: Volume III, South Brooklyn Edition. We are proud to say that more than half of the artists in the Biennial are women; this comes on the heels of a year where BRIC showed 15 solo exhibitions of female artists! Led by female curators Elizabeth Ferrer and Jenny Gerow, BRIC knows many more than just #5womenartists, so read below for 11 excellent examples:
Eleanna Anagnos explores the possibilities and limitations of human perception through a phenomenological lens. Using such materials as paper pulp, plaster, Hydrocal, ink, and paint, she creates works that appear both ancient and modern. Her sculptures, often resembling glyphs, fossils, masks, or relics, present an evocative meshing of familiar forms. As pseudoartifacts, they shy away from direct references, mimicking the enigmatic way the subconscious mind combines images, ideas, memories, and feelings, and focusing on the metaphysical and mystic connections that bolster our conscious experiences.
Laura Bernstein uses video, performance, sculpture, and installation to raise questions about the future of our evolutionary biology. Fascinated by the aesthetics of carnivals and freak shows, debunked scientific theories, and the categorical displays of natural specimens in early museums, she creatively tests the boundaries of what it means to be human. Ascent of Lamarckism is an example of her visceral use of materiality and the grotesque to dissect these ideas. Bestial yet humanoid figures ascend the gallery column, bound to their support as they probe the space they inhabit, blurring the line between the domestic and wild.
Sarah E. Brook creates objects that explore the relationship between external and internal vastness. She is interested in the process of dissolving conceptions of the self, using translucency, layering, and color gradation to morph her architectural structures into perceptual experiments that open up space for self-orientation and definition. By suggesting physical, geographic spaces untied from sociocultural time/space, she acts to access gender and queer identities. In All the Ways a Horizon Can Mean, Brook demonstrates the fluidity of perception by creating mutable sight lines which serve to question fixed states of being and to dismantle limiting narratives.
Artist and designer Liz Collins draws on traditional textile processes to create fiber-based objects and installations. Marked by the unexpected, Collins’ practice is defined by an exploration of materiality and desire to decontextualize mediums often identified with specific uses. Her reuse and adaption of objects allows her to bend norms while thinking about sustainability in a fine arts context. Collins also explores the built environment through site-specific installations, which rely on and grow from the spaces for which they are designed. Strainer was originally installed at the Tang Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, and has been reshaped into a site-specific installation for the BRIC Biennial.
Katya Grokhovsky is known for delving into the grotesque to create theatrical personae that she presents through video, installation, performance, and other media. Her identity is both projected onto and created through eccentric and unruly characters, which draw from her Ukrainian family history, the unique vulnerabilities of migrant women, and her own experiences as a woman and an immigrant to Australia as an adolescent and, ultimately, to New York as an adult. Grokhovsky’s multimedia installation, The Future is Bright, is centered around the story of the artist’s 94-year-old grandmother, a Jewish Russian survivor and veteran of World War II.
Collaborating under the name Las Hermanas Iglesias, sisters Lisa and Janelle Iglesias provide an alternative model of art making by merging their individual art practices to explore issues of hybridity and cultural fusion. In their most recent body of work, created under the expanded collaborative Familien Iglesias, the artists created art with their mother, Bodhild, and son/nephew, Bowie. For the BRIC Biennial, Las Hermanas reimagined the large, elaborate sculpture, Chasing their Ponytails, in response to the space. They utilized assemblage to consider the relation disparate objects have to broader systems by repurposing familial and found objects into interconnected structures.
In her oil paintings, Vera Iliatova creates lush natural scenes that explore displacement, transition, and dreamlike habitation. Iliatova, who moved from St. Petersburg, Russia to Bay Ridge when she was 16 years old, is interested in ambiguous moments, departures and arrivals, and the weight of the past. Painting flowers and plants from disparate geographies into a single scene, she creates composite spaces where natural forms not usually seen together form imagined environments that are beautifully surreal and chaotic. Groups of young women appear ghostly and dissociated in the midst of vague, fading landscapes.
Rachel Klinghoffer merges painting and sculpture to create works influenced by religious relics, ancient artifacts, and landscape painting. For her sculptures, she amasses personal possessions and family mementos, assembling them into new and suggestive forms. Memorabilia, old shoes, tired paintbrushes, Hanukkah decorations, and seashells, among other objects, all receive a second life as they are elevated from everyday ephemera to artistic material. Despite Klinghoffer’s poking, tearing, and breaking apart of her materials, leaving them to bear little resemblance to their original forms, this laborious practice suffuses her finished works with nostalgia and familiarity.
Phoenix Lindsey-Hall’s mixed-media practice focuses on violence and under-recorded histories in queer communities. For the exhibition at BRIC, and her satellite exhibition at Trestle Gallery, Lindsey-Hall advertised an open call for objects to be displayed at both locations as Lesbian Matters, an art project and collective examination of a contemporary lesbian life. This call was open to anyone, but especially to those identifying as lesbian, butch, queer, non-gender binary, or trans. This open call amassed dozens of objects, ranging from books to pop culture memorabilia to used testosterone hormones and shows the vibrant scope of often marginalized histories.
Qiana Mestrich is a photographer who manipulates archival and digital found photographs to create works that comment on embedded stereotypes and historical narratives. The works in the Biennial were selected from her series, Notes on Whiteness. Born out of her questioning her own relationship to whiteness as a person of mixed heritage, this series focuses on the concept of “whiteness” as a dominating, invasive force. Mestrich recontextualized a Greco-Roman statue, lichen, flowers, hair, and lace to investigate what this means both on an individual and cultural scale, unpacking the anxiety and unease that these ideologies promote, and how skin continues to be a space of conflict.
Betty Yu is a Chinese-American multimedia artist, filmmaker educator, and community activist. She is included in the satellite exhibition in BRIC’s project room, Virtual and Real Estate, curated by Danielle Wu and Connie Kang of the Asian/Asian-American arts collective, An/Other. Her installation includes video, memorabilia, and photographs that are displayed in an interactive and welcoming environment, likening it to the homes and lives she strives to represent. Yu’s archive of stories by communities affected by gentrification, challenge the absurdity of place and placelessness to bear on the chronological depth of lived experience.
To learn more about the BRIC Biennial: Volume III, South Brooklyn Edition, CLICK HERE.