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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 the series, Picture an Arab Man by photographer Tamara Abdul:

Tamara Abdul, Picture an Arab Man, photography

Tamara Abdul, Picture an Arab Man, photography

Tamara Abdul, Picture an Arab Man, photography

Tamara Abdul, Picture an Arab Man, photography

Tamara Abdul, Picture an Arab Man, photography

Tamara Abdul, Picture an Arab Man, photography

Tamara Abdul, Picture an Arab Man, photography

Tamara Abdul, Picture an Arab Man, photography

Tamara Abdul, Picture an Arab Man, photography

Tamara Abdul, Picture an Arab Man, photography

Tamara Abdul began this series of portraits in 2009, creating images of semi-nude Arab men. Abdul’s photography aims to expose and destroy stereotypes of the Arab male by showing the diverse backgrounds and appearances that Arab men have.

Her work breaks down racial and gender stereotypes. Of these Abdul notes, “the development of a vague, archetypal image of the Arab woman as a pious, doe-eyed virgin, an overtly-sexual harem whore, a perpetually-oppressed victim, or any combination of the above. Complementing this is an image of the Arab man as a sexual predator, a greedy oil-rich sheikh, the classic ‘rag-head terrorist’, or again, any amalgam of these”. The Arab men depicted here by Abdul are nude and vulnerable, treated as human beings rather than stereotypes. Photo by photo, Abdul works to show the world real individuals as opposed to one large, stereotyped group.

These pieces are subtly sensual, with the nude male form portrayed gently with a soft focus. Work like Abdul’s is very important in its unique portrayal of men in a way that is not hyper-masculine or detached. These men aren’t afraid to smile or behave coyly in front of the camera.

You can see more of Abdul’s work here or read an interview with the artist 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: Semi-surreal photography of hopeful Zambian astronauts by Cristina de Middel.

I recently had a piece in the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester’s juried exhibition of Rochester student work. It was a beautiful show, mainly featuring three-dimensional works of sculpture, furniture design, jewelry, and more.

Melissa Huang, Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, Student Showcase 2013

Melissa Huang, Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, Student Showcase 2013

It’s always fun to see my paintings in a gallery space, and I was glad to see artwork by other students. The high quality of artwork on display was very inspiring! One of my professors—a wonderful artist named Alan Singer—writes a blog called The Visual Artworker, in which he talks about contemporary artwork in western New York. One of his posts reviewed a number of November gallery shows and included a photo of my painting as installed in the show. I’d recommend taking a look at his blog if you want to know more about the Rochester art scene.

If you’d like to see a clearer view or detail shot of this painting check out the portfolio section of my site. And as always, any comments or feedback on my work is appreciated!

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 The Afronauts by Cristina de Middel:

Cristina de Middel, The Afronauts, photography

Cristina de Middel, The Afronauts, photography

Cristina de Middel, The Afronauts, photography

Cristina de Middel, The Afronauts, photography

Cristina de Middel, The Afronauts, photography

Cristina de Middel, The Afronauts, photography

Cristina de Middel, The Afronauts, photography

Cristina de Middel, The Afronauts, photography

Cristina de Middel, The Afronauts, photography

Cristina de Middel, The Afronauts, photography

These photographs by artist Cristina de Middel reflect Zambia’s 1964 ambitions to put the first African on the Moon. De Middel’s photographs celebrate a nation’s dreams, comparing Zambia’s goals to the hopes and dreams of other nations. The photographs themselves are very whimsical; interesting fiction crafted from photos of people in Spain wearing spacesuits of African fabric and streetlamp globe helmets, composited with archival images of African villages creates a feeling of a dreamy story.

De Middel’s work is presented with a real letter between Zambian ministers during the time period stating that “America and Russia may lose the race to the Moon, according to Edward Mukaka Nkoloso, Director of the Zambia National Academy of Space Research”. Problems were abound with the space program, however, as the astronauts “don’t concentrate on spaceflight… there’s too much lovemaking when they should be studying the Moon”. Additionally, one of their astronauts, a seventeen year old “chosen to be the first coloured woman on Mars, has also to feed her 10 cats, who will be her companions on the long spaceflight”.

Zambia’s participation in the space race is a subject most Americans know little about. De Middel’s series is not only beautiful but informative, and helps many people relate to Zambia’s seemingly impossible ambitions. De Middel is aware of the possibility of neo-colonialist themes in her work, and tries to avoid being exploitative or appropriative by being clear that this is a fictionalized account of the Zambian Space Program and portraying the subject in a dreamy, legendary fashion.

You can see more of de Middel’s work here or read an interview with the artist 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: Nude Male Landscapes by Eunice Golden.

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 the male nudes of Eunice Golden:

Eunice Golden, Purple Sky, 1969, oil on canvas, 48x72"

Eunice Golden, Purple Sky, 1969, oil on canvas, 48×72″

Eunice Golden, Landscape #160, 1972, mixed media on paper, 26x51"

Eunice Golden, Landscape #160, 1972, mixed media on paper, 26×51″

Eunice Golden, Study for Gardens of Delight #1, 1980, mixed media on paper, 18x24"

Eunice Golden, Study for Gardens of Delight #1, 1980, mixed media on paper, 18×24″

Golden was a revolutionary feminist artist and member of the Fight Censorship group, a collective of female artists “who have done, will do, or do some form of sexually eplicit art, i.e., political, humorous, erotic, psychological”. Many feminist artists were exploring phallic imagery, and were frequently censored for their depiction of the male nude. Although female nudes were an art world standard, galleries and critics were unwilling to accept similar images of men. Artists who used the eroticized male figure were, in some cases, barred from teaching positions, had their work confiscated, and were rejected by the mainstream establishment. Artists like Joan Semmel who painted both the male and female nude found their images of women in high demand and their images of men ignored. This is a form of censorship that is not often discussed.  Rather than blatantly removing eroticized male figures, curators and jurors simply ignored their innovation. The disinclusion of feminist artists from opportunities that could lead to art world success is a form of censorship.

According to Golden, “ In the 1960’s, while painting the male anatomy, I didn’t consider that it would be construed as heretical and revolutionary. Stifled by the existing definitions of wife and mother, this work was a stream of consciousness outpouring of emotionally and sensually charged images that reflected who I was: a heterosexual woman with erotic needs and fantasies”.

Golden’s paintings of men take the form of landscapes. The artist and the viewer are exploring the male body. Her work is tactile, you feel as though you can reach out and feel her forms. Her figurative expressionism abstracts the figure, and yet the paintings feel intimate at the same time. By focusing so closely on certain parts of the male form, the viewer is drawn in emotionally and physically. One of the revolutionary aspects of Golden’s work is that the presumed viewer is not male, as in most works of art, but female. Her images are of men, for women. They are a powerful example of the female gaze.

You can see more of Golden’s work here. If you’d like to learn more about the Fight Censorship group and similar feminist artists take a look at Hard Targets: Male Bodies, Feminist Art, and the Force of Censorship in the 1970s. 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: Male Nudes by Dana Schutz.

I’ve been working on a series of paintings over the past month or so! They’re a colorful collection of small oil paintings of birds on gold leaf covered birch canvases. The pieces are 6″x6″ or 5″x5″ and look great in groups!

Melissa Huang, Birds, 2013, 6"x6" each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

Melissa Huang, Birds, 2013, 6″x6″ each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

I’ve also created an Etsy store! If you’ve ever been interested in purchasing one of my pieces this is a great opportunity to do so. The birds are very inexpensive, costing only $40 a canvas. It’s never too early to start collecting original artwork that you love, and this is a chance to purchase some of my work before I graduate and my prices go up.

Take a look at some close-ups of the birds:

Melissa Huang, Birds, 2013, 6"x6" each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

Melissa Huang, Baltimore Oriole, 2013, 6″x6″ each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

Melissa Huang, Birds, 2013, 6"x6" each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

Melissa Huang, Green Parrot, 2013, 6″x6″ each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

Melissa Huang, Birds, 2013, 6"x6" each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

Melissa Huang, Parrot, 2013, 6″x6″ each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

Melissa Huang, Birds, 2013, 6"x6" each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

Melissa Huang, American Goldfinch, 2013, 6″x6″ each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

Melissa Huang, Birds, 2013, 6"x6" each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

Melissa Huang, Birds, 2013, 6″x6″ or 5″x5″ each, oil on canvas, gold leaf

Don’t forget, you can check out my Etsy store here to see the entire bird series, and pop back in for more! This flock will only keep on growing. Feel free to contact me with questions or additional photographs. I also paint commissions, so if you like this style but aren’t interested in a bird I can create original artwork for you!

Over the past two weeks I started and finished a new oil painting that I’m very excited about! It’s different from many of my other pieces, in that it’s smaller, much more colorful, and non-figurative. This piece has a better use of sharp and soft focus than some of my previous works, and has marked differences in textures. The glossiness of the dog figurine really pops out from the speckled beads and the shiny pearls.

This piece is for sale! Contact me for the price.

Melissa Huang, Treasures, 2013, oil on canvas, 20"x20"

Melissa Huang, Treasures, 2013, oil on canvas, 20″x20″

I also have some shots of the work in process! Each photo was taken at the end of a painting session. I work pretty quickly, so there are a few big jumps, but you get the idea.

Read more →

Are you interested in women’s contribution to the arts? Are you currently a resident of Florence, or even just passing through?

On October 4th and 5th, twelve scholars will present their research on ‘Artiste del Chiostro’, nun artists and female art production in monastic communities from the early Renaissance through Napoleonic suppression. The conference is co-sponsored by the Jane Fortune Research Program on Women Artists in the Age of the Medici at the Medici Archives Project. If you’re interested in topics like “Nun Artisans, Needlecraft, and Material Culture in Early Modern Florentine Convents” or “Knowing Hands: Nuns’ Textile Artistry in Renaissance Florence” you should check it out!

Artiste nel Chiostro Poster

Artiste nel Chiostro Poster

If you’d like to attend, the conference takes place in the Sala dell’Annunciazione at the Convento dei Frati Servi di Santa Maria (SS. Annunziata), via Cesare Battisti 6. The conference entrance is to the left of the facade of the Basilica of the SS. Annunziata.

Talks run from 3:00pm-6:00pm on October 4th and 9:30am-1:00pm on October 5th.

For more details, take a look at the Medici Archive Project site or the event poster here.

A few of my paintings have been featured on art Tumblrs lately! If you’d like to take a look, there’s Play and Play II on EatSleepDraw, as well as Self Portrait as a Young Woman on Fuck Yeah Female Artists.

Melissa Huang, Play, 2012, oil on canvas, 20″x20″

Melissa Huang, Play, 2012, oil on canvas, 20″x20″

Melissa Huang, Play II, 2012, oil on canvas, 20″x20″

Melissa Huang, Play II, 2012, oil on canvas, 20″x20″

Melissa Huang, Self-Portrait as a Young Woman, 2013, oil on canvas, 31.5″x 47″

Melissa Huang, Self-Portrait as a Young Woman, 2013, oil on canvas, 31.5″x 47″

You can check out my tumblr here. It’s a collection of work by women artists as well as some of my own pieces. Any readers on Tumblr? Let me know in the comments and I’ll follow you!

Yeesookyung is a Korean artist living in Seoul, who is well known for her intricate and entrancing ceramic forms. Her sculptures are made of the shards and fragments of broken ceramics, carefully fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Yeesookyung, Translated Vase, 2011, 76x64x68 cm

Yeesookyung, Translated Vase, 2011, 76x64x68 cm

Yeesookyung created her Translated Vase series in 2002 after seeing ceramic master Lim Hang-Taek’s trash shimmering in the sunlight. She was attracted to the reflection of light on the shards and the organic forms their cracks created. Back in the studio, Yeesookyung takes the ceramic cast-aways and fits the pieces together until undulating, elegant forms emerge.

While originally, Yeesookyung had predetermined forms in mind, she soon let the materials guide her. Her pieces moved away from being quite so geometric and grew into forms she describes as “bumpy” and “stuttering”. The entire effect is enhanced by the beautiful gold she uses to fill in the cracks. Gold lacquer is not only beautiful, but a pun. In Korean the words “gold” and “crack” are both “geum”. In Yeesookyung’s words, “I wanted to add a sense of humor to my work by filling geums (cracks), which are considered as defects, with a valuable material, such as real geum (gold).

Yeesookyung, Translated Vase, 2007, 43x45x49 cm, Courtesy of Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, USA

Yeesookyung, Translated Vase, 2007, 43x45x49 cm, Courtesy of Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, USA

Yeesookyung, Translated Vase, 2009, 80x85x170 cm, Oranienbaum, Dessau, Germany

Yeesookyung, Translated Vase, 2009, 80x85x170 cm, Oranienbaum, Dessau, Germany

Yeesookyung, Translated Vase, 2009, 84x81x122 cm, courtesy of Boston Museum of Contemporary Art, Boston, USA

Yeesookyung, Translated Vase, 2009, 84x81x122 cm, courtesy of Boston Museum of Contemporary Art, Boston, USA

Yeesookyung, Translated vase, installation scene, 2009, Vancouver Sculpture Biennale, Vancouver, Canada

Yeesookyung, Translated vase, installation scene, 2009, Vancouver Sculpture Biennale, Vancouver, Canada

These sculptures question the ceramic tradition in which perfection is key. According to the artist, “The master potter was trying to create the perfect piece each time, and he would discard even the ones with the slightest flaw. So I chose to create new forms from them, because perhaps, I don’t believe completely in that kind of perfection”.

Yeesookyung’s attention to detail translates to the other mediums she employs. For instance, her incredibly intricate flame paintings are created by laying paper on the ground, starting from one position and methodically moving from bottom to top. This is similar to the way in which she uses ceramic. Her flames are carefully fitted together; they and the vases grow organically. Read more →