I’m excited to announce that I’m featured in issue 10 of Art House Press! Check the article out online (and read about the other two talented artists featured in this issue as well). Thank you Cordell Cordaro for the opportunity, Margarita Tsallagova for the beautiful photos, and Jason Campbell for writing this piece!
Photograph by Margarita Tsallagova
I have two pieces in Matter+Form, a group show of emerging artists at the Phelps Art Center. This show includes work by myself (Melissa Huang), Rose Haserodt, Zach Goetz, Nadia Adams, Shakiyla Jamison, James Cody Kross, Gareth Barry, Judy Kinz, and Muhammad Imran Aslam. Muhammad organized and curated Matter+Form and is a very talented figurative sculptor. Be sure to check out his Tumblr to see new work!
The Phelps Art Center is also exhibiting 3-Dimensional Views, featuring the work of Olivia Kim, Wayne Williams, and Robert Fladd.
The Phelps Art Center is a nonprofit art gallery in Phelps, NY, located in a beautiful old church. It is a truly unique space for artwork.
Thursdays, from 1-4pm
Fridays, from 1-4pm
Saturdays, from 1-4pm
You can learn more about the Phelps Art Center on their website.
Last month I spent three weeks in Makaha on Oahu. It was a beautiful and relaxing experience. I was able to bring some watercolor supplies with me and get some landscape painting done!
These are just quickly grabbed off of my instagram account (@melissahuangart yo!), so the quality is so-so. But you get the idea!
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to work from such beautiful scenery and to practice my plein air painting skills.
I submitted my studio space at Rochester Institute of Technology for Hyperallergic’s A View from the Easel back in early March, and they just posted it now! I’m already nostalgic for my RIT studio space and can’t wait to make a new one.
I spent most of this weekend apartment hunting, hanging out on my porch, and painting. So overall, it was a fun time! I manages to quickly paint one 12″ x 9″ oil on canvas and one 5.5″ x 5.5″ watercolor.
I still have one day of vacation left, so hopefully I can start work on a bigger project this afternoon. I can’t wait for a new apartment so I have room to work on bigger paintings!
I have fifteen paintings on display at Warfield’s Restaurant in Clifton Springs! Stop by to check out my gold leaf panel paintings, including imagery of fruit, crystals, figurines, birds, and more.
Warfield’s is one of the best restaurants in the area, so definitely stop by for lunch or dinner! I can also confirm they have an incredible bakery with very, very delicious bread.
And of course, Warfield’s is immediately across the street from Main Street Arts, so make sure to stop by and see some artwork!
7 West Main Street
Clifton Springs, NY 14432
I’ve officially graduated with a BFA from RIT and have been working at Main Street Arts for the past month! This is a great gallery with beautiful artwork and I’m very happy to be here. Take a peek at a few photographs of my work in the gallery’s current exhibition, FLORA.
FLORA is a juried exhibition of botanical artwork, featuring paintings, sculptures, photographs, and more by 43 New York State artists. I can actually see my painting from my desk! It’s been a nice way to get started here, being able to see my artwork every day!
Stop by the gallery to say hi. We’re open Tuesday-Thursday 11:00am-6:00pm, and Friday-Saturday from 11:00am-7:00pm. We’re located at 20 West Main Street in Clifton Springs, NY.
I’m excited to announce that I have a piece in Dacia Gallery’s upcoming show, Emanation – a group portrait exhibition. The opening is this Thursday, June 12, 2014 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. I’ll be at the opening, so stop by to check out some incredible artwork (seriously, these artists have some beautiful portraits) or to say hello!
Check out the Facebook page for the opening here, or see the artist bios and included artworks here. The show runs from June 11, 2014 – July 6, 2014, so make sure you stop by the gallery to take a look!
53 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002 – (917) 727-9383
Erin Anderson, Mary Bechtol, Taha Clayton, Bob Clyatt, Erin Fitzpatrick, Max Gleason, Melissa Huang, Katrina Majkut, and Raisa Nosova
Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).
Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!
This week we’ll look at a series of portraits by painter Annie Kevans:
As you may have noticed, Annie Kevans’ Boys series depicts the faces of real dictators as innocent children. Childlike features are exaggerated, creating rosy-cheeked, doe-eyed versions of violent dictators. Her images exist in stark contrast to what we know about these men.
For Kevans, accurately portraying people is not the focus of her portraits. She views her work as conceptual, and the rift between the accuracy of the portraits and what we know to be factually true adds to the concept.
Kevans is also well known for her series, Lost Boys, including portraits of now-grown child stars as they used to be. In this series the contrast is also important, as the viewer compares, say, and adult Michael Jackson with his younger self.
Stylistically, Kevans appears to be very similar to Karen Kilimnik with her loose painting techniques and flattened value planes, although the “celebrities” she selects exist in a very different vein. Kevans’ undefined brushstrokes only add to the jarring sense of innocence in these portraits.
You can see more of Kevans’ work here. Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments!
Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: Paintings by Feminist artist, Alice Neel.
Art museums have positioned themselves as the keepers of artistic culture, and are generally thought to reflect the history and values of the people they represent. Unfortunately, because American museums exist in a kyriarchal society they are often governed by kyriarchal values. Societal prejudices imbue the museums with the power to determine “good” or “bad” artwork in line with the goals of the privileged. While the process of selecting artists for museum exhibition may seem impartial, it is as flawed as the society the museum represents. For artists who do not identify as cisgender, straight, white men, discrimination hinders career advancement and contributes to their exclusion from the canon. Ultimately, museums are influenced and reinforced by kyriarchal standards in a way that negatively affects the careers of artists outside of the mainstream.
Museums and galleries are driven by the desires of the wealthy and privileged, a group primarily dominated by white men. According to a 2012 study of High Net Worth Philanthropy by the Bank of America, “of the nearly $300 billion donated last year more than 70% was given by individuals, of which roughly half was given by the wealthiest 3% of American households”. To put that into context, approximately half—$150 billion—of all American charitable donations by individuals were given by just 3% of the wealthiest households. Because of these findings, organizations like the American Alliance of Museums recommend pursuing few wealthy donors as opposed to large numbers of poor or middle-class donors. In their annual report, TrendsWatch 2013, the organization recommends that museums “Consider a strategy of pursuing bigger gifts from fewer people”.
While focusing on obtaining gifts from wealthier donors is one of the most effective ways for museums to quickly raise funds, it forces them to value the opinions of the wealthy over the lower and middle-classes. Furthermore, because of the extreme racial inequality present in the American upper class, the interests of white people are drastically overrepresented. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, “While all major racial/ethnic groups are represented in the wealthiest 1%, the group is more likely to be white and less likely to be black than the bottom 99%”. More specifically, of the wealthiest 1% of Gallup’s poll, 78% of responders identified as Non-Hispanic white, only 2% as Non-Hispanic black, and 19% as Other nonwhite. Other reports show the wealthiest 1% of the United States as being even whiter, with a 2012 New York Times article reporting the group as 82% white.
Some museums are trendsetters, but most of the established fine art museums merely reaffirm existing narratives. These museums go with the “safe” choice of artists who have already been approved by mainstream critics, galleries, and collectors. Galleries themselves are biased toward artists who are white, identify as men, and have other characteristics valued by kyriarchal society. For example, although MFA programs include women artists at 65% to 75%, men somehow dominate the gallery system with approximately 70% representation. It is not a matter of women deciding against pursuing an art career; this gender gap appears post-graduation. Women want to be artists but galleries do not want to represent them. This is at least partially a result of living in a society that values the contributions of men and white people over women and people of color.
One of the contributing factors to the erasure of women and people of color in the art world is the incorrect assumption that there are no artists from these groups creating work that is “good enough”, and that if there were, they would be known. Multiracial black artist Adrian Piper recorded a an example of this in a statement by 20th century art critic Rosalind Krauss, in which Krauss “doubts that there is any unrecognized African-American art of quality, because if it doesn’t bring itself to her attention, it probably doesn’t exist”. Possibly the biggest issue with this belief is the idea that “good” art would make itself evident, and that black artists would receive recognition if only their work were “good enough”.
The question then raised is, who is in charge of determining what art is worthwhile? Museum workers are overwhelmingly white, with the upper-level, curatorial positions even more overwhelmingly so. Eric Siegel, director of the New York Hall of Science, commented on an early version of the American Association of Museums’ (Now the American Alliance of Museums) 2010 trends paper, Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums, saying, “too many middle aged hypereducated white people are going to limit the degree to which museums incorporate other points of view”. As of 2010, 80% of museum studies majors were white, and the numbers do not appear to be improving quickly enough to match United States demographics.
In another article, Piper compares the treatment she received when critics viewed her as a white artist or as a black artist. In one anecdote, a potential employer—who viewed Piper as white—offered her a tenure-track job in the university’s graduate department. Piper declined the position only to receive from him another offer two years later, for a less appealing, temporary visiting position teaching undergraduates. The difference was, this time the employer knew she was black. In fact, he condescendingly related to one of Piper’s current colleagues that the employer’s administration was pressuring him to integrate the department, implying this was the primary reason for the offer.
Black artists are discouraged in many ways from promoting their work and from exhibiting in major galleries. Many people of color learn from an early age to be wary of opportunities for fear of being taken advantage of. Performance artist Coco Fusco wrote of an incident in which a prominent ethnographic filmmaker lured her under false pretenses to his home, where he stripped to his underwear, voiced wishes to see her naked, handed Fusco a basket while instructing her to gather berries and nuts, and then ripped her shirt when she was finally able to leave. Fusco had pursued this opportunity to work in film with a prominent filmmaker, and was punished with the white filmmaker’s racist colonial fantasies. This incident may be an extreme example, but the same discouraging effect can be achieved by small, repetitive actions of racism or sexism. Women and people of color learn to be wary, and in this way miss out on opportunities. Of course, even when minority artists promote their work they face discriminatory selection processes from people who have been raised to believe in kyriarchal ideals.
Artists who are not represented in museums are less likely to be included in art historical canon. Lacking museum support, artists are excluded from art history texts or have their work recast as “links” between more critically acclaimed white, male artists. By failing to fairly represent women and people of color in museum and gallery spaces we are not only hindering their careers at present, but also preventing them from taking their spot in history.
Art museums are the keepers of culture, but American culture is sexist, racist, and discriminatory in many ways. Artists are selected for museum exhibition because of kyriarchal factors that promote pandering to wealthy white men. The same factors affect how museums determine what work is “good” art and imbue these institutions with the power to make those decisions. Without correcting these inequalities, artists outside the mainstream of kyriarchal society will continue to suffer from lack of representation and from unfair treatment by the art world.