Women artists address the subject of women Art: Works on view at the University of Maryland College Park look at issues that range from rape to surgery to leg shaving.

February 23, 1997|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,SUN ART CRITIC

"Terra Firma" at the University of Maryland College Park brings together the work of six women whose subject matter is women. Specifically, it deals with issues of concern to women through addressing itself to the subject of the body.

The results range from the horrifying to the funny, in one case within the work of a single artist. Three pieces from a series of life-sized drawings on vellum by Faith Wilding deal with the issue rape and were occasioned by the rapes of women in the Bosnian War. "Forced Pregnancy Dress," "Raped Dress" and "Infected Dress" display repellent stains that speak graphically of the violence of rape; they are so repulsive that they are almost impossible to look at, and as such entirely appropriate to the subject.

The same artist's "embryoworld," an installation that consists primarily of drawings, takes as its subject what the show's catalog calls "assisted conception technologies." Wilding plainly

questions whether science is going too far in this realm. But this has its light side, too, when Wilding posits some Frankenstein monsters we might end up with if we start genetically designing people. Her series of embryo drawings includes "corporate embryo" with the Chase bank logo on it, and "self-surveilling embryo," in which a fetus whose torso is a TV set records itself with a hand-held video camera.

Barbara Zucker's work also incorporates humor, although it has an entirely serious message. Her series of small sculptures deal with how the concept of beauty requires alteration from the natural. "Hair Straightening" consists of a curled metal bar and a straight bar side by side. Two pairs of vertical steel bars, one sprouting short horizontal bars and the other plain, is called "Leg Shaving."

Alteration, both chosen and imposed, figures in the work of other artists here, too. Lorna Simpson's "Wigs" consists of a series of lithographs of wigs. Wigs have to do not only with alteration but with disguise, and they raise the question of how women have been forced to disguise themselves in many ways in order to survive.

Nancy Fried's terra cotta sculptures deal with mastectomy. They actually show the torso with one breast and a scar where the other would be, and the artist's variations on this theme record the effects such an operation has on women, from pain to grief to anger.

Susan Brenner and Kiki Smith also contribute challenging works to this show, whose curator, Terry Gips, has given it a spacious, excellent installation. Together with its catalog, it adds up to a distinguished effort that offers much to think about.

Art Review

What: "Terra Firma"

Where: Art Gallery, Art-Sociology Building, University of Maryland College Park

When: Noon to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (Thursdays to 9 p.m.) and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays, through March 2

Call: (301) 405-2763

Pub Date: 2/23/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.