Our Daily Armor lll - The Virago in Contemporary Art and Adornment
November 16th - December 31st, 2017
Opening Reception – Saturday November 18th, 2017, 6-9pm
WEST SEATTLE ART WALK - Thursday, Dec. 14th 5 to 9pm
Virago, in Latin, was the name for a female warrior: strong, brave, war-like, a heroine. A virago was a woman who displayed the characteristic of virtus—a characteristic of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths. As was often the case with heroic women, the word lost its heroic aspect through the centuries, and was battered down to its more widely known definition: a loud, violent, and ill-tempered woman; domineering, abrasive; a scold.
Today, Virago Gallery and its artists reclaim the original meaning of virago as woman warrior, but do not reject the second meaning. Because while it is good to have valor and excellence and those lofty goals, it is more important as women today to be loud and to be heard. If virago was once a slur against a woman who dared use her voice to criticize or scold, these artists glory in it. If virago was a slight to chastise a woman who seemed ill-tempered and wouldn't smile, they bask in it. The new virago is girding for battle, she is donning her armor, but she is not doing so silently—and she is not doing so alone.
This November Virago Gallery presents “Our Daily Armor - The Virago in Contemporary Art and Adornment”, the third winter group exhibition to explore the idea of women and the armor they don to face the world. As a celebration of the gallery's first full year under the name Virago Gallery (formerly Twilight Gallery), this show invites womxn artists from around the world to respond to the idea of armor and weaponry as adorned carapace, as stark necessity, and source of strength.
Is armor a serene face, under which the ferocious jaw of a predator lurks, as in Lauren Wong's (Seattle) digital illustration? Is it in the form of Melinda Lee Holm's (Los Angeles) jewelry based on tarot card symbolism, designed to silently and secretly guide and empower their wearer? Is it a sheath that conceals the vulnerable parts from prying eyes, as in thread-wrapped porcelain sculptures by Rebecca Reeves (PA)?
Images of women and the tensions and expectations placed upon them inform the work Texas-based Dawn Okoro. She brings eye-popping color to the show, her altered photography of black women teetering in high heels and tight dresses revealing a precarious balancing act between fashion and practicality, self-actualization and fetishization. Similarly, Sophia Ruppert adds vivid roses, dripping pearls and spotless lace to humdrum household objects such as ironing boards and kitchen mixers, commenting on the ways in which marriage and traditional “women's work” is marketed to contemporary women and sold back to them as luxurious and desirable.
British digital artist Simone Webb invites us to see strength and delicacy in the natural world. Her prints on aluminum show pristine flowers on pearlescent backgrounds, but each has a violent blur swiped across it, a startling intercession that hints at the hidden war between entropy and life, decay and growth.
Inés Ixierda draws upon multiple identities—queer, Bolivian, community activist, bruja, survivor—to create punk designs that center around protective spells for the queer community, offensive hexes to deny power to the patriarchy, and to support her black and brown sisters in SF and beyond.
Today's virago means many things to these artists: a feminist, a boss, an activist, an unapologetic bitch, a witch, a visionary, a survivor. Not all demonstrations of courage look the same. Every warrior has their own weapon and their own armor of choice. Here are theirs.
Andrea Iaroc (Seattle), CJ Mazzalupo (NY), Simone Webb (London), Sara Purr (Seattle), Sullivan Giles (SEA/NY), Aramis Hamer (Seattle), Nicole Monjeau (London), Uyen Tran-Gjerde (Seattle), Alisa Sikelianos-Carter (PA), Jordan Christianson (Seattle), Kim Merritt (Seattle), Sarah Trahan, Jennifer McNeely (Seattle), Inés Ixierda (San Francisco), Christina Tzani (Greece), Emma San Cartier (Seattle), Winterlaced (San Francisco), Kate Ryan (Seattle ), Rebecca Rose (FL), Lauren Wong (Seattle), Joey Veltkamp (SEA), Acid Queen Jewelry (LA), Noel Heimpel (Seattle), Dawn Okoro (Houston), Crystal Fosnaugh (Seattle), Marilyn Montufar (Seattle), Sophia Ruppert (Nebraska), Alicalisa Brown (Jamaica), Julia Fiorvanti (Seattle), Melinda Lee Holm (LA),, Queen & Crow (Seattle),Laura Walton Allen (Seattle), Mary Enslow (Seattle), Julie Sarlouttee (France), Kamari Bright (Seattle), Izzie Klingels (Seattle), Rochelle Kulei, Margot Bird (NY), Kook Teflon (Seattle), Su Laing (Seattle), Kelly Lyles (Seattle), Stone Crow Designs (Seattle), Healing Medicine: Kristina Cyr (Montana), Lovewell Couture (Seattle), Jody Joldermsa (Seattle), Ellie Dicola (Seattle), Mariel Andrade (Seattle), Su Laing (Seattle), Stasia Burrington (Seattle), Rebecca Reeves (PA), Flannery Grace (MO), Shannon Koszyk (Seattle), Smoke & Daggers (Austin), Dawn Okoro (Houston) and more!
Melinda Lee Holm