Woman Made Gallery, a Chicago art gallery, has accepted one of my pieces for display in the 2019 juried exhibition Small Works Members’ Show.
As a longtime member of Woman Made, I’m excited to display my piece, which I created this year. It’s a mixed media artwork and will be on view for the first time in this show.
Opening Reception: Saturday, Dec. 7, 1 – 3 p.m.
The Small Works Members’ Show runs from Friday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 15. It is free and open to the public.
Woman Made will host an opening reception and open house on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 1 to 3 p.m. The reception also is free and open to the public.
The gallery also will hold a closing reception and party for members and volunteers on Sunday, Dec. 15, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Works In This Show Perfect For Gifts
The show boasts a trio of jurors: Woman Made cofounders and board members Kelly Hensen and Beate Minkovski and gallery coordinator Marta Kowalska-Porcz. The three, also artists themselves, chose a mix of pieces that offer a treasure trove for collectors, art lovers, and gift givers. The exhibition will present more than 130 works by current WMG artist members.
Come see the two- and three-dimensional artworks on display, representing a broad range of media including painting, mixed media, collage, printmaking, sculpture, ceramic, and photography.
It’s called the "Small Works" show because every piece had to measure no larger than 16 inches in any direction. The show is perfect for getting holiday gifts, as prices range from just $50 to $300.
About Underwire I
My piece, Underwire I, was inspired by having to buy a new swimsuit this year.
I swim regularly for relaxation, fun, and exercise, and I really enjoy being in the water, zipping up and back in a pool. I also really enjoy looking as attractive as possible while doing that because I enjoy fashion and am far from a no frills woman.
Chlorine and repeated washing and use can be hard on a swimsuit, and eventually they all start to stretch out and sag. (Never a good look!) That’s what happened to mine a few months ago, so it was time to replace it.
Before buying, I wanted to see options and be able to try on the ones I liked. So I went to a department store and connected with a sales person right away.
Underwires – Even In Bathing Suits
I tried on several suits that day, including many designer ones that looked great on the hanger but wouldn’t work for my needs because they were more for lounging by a pool than actually being inside the pool and moving around in the water. My objective was to find just the right mix of fashion and function in a one-piece suit.
After trying more than a dozen suits, I chose a simple suit that came in a fun aqua color.
It also came with foam cups and underwires. Fortunately, it has a smart design with openings allowing me to remove the cups. So I took out the (lumpy and awkward) cups but couldn’t get the underwires out.
Bathing Suits And Brassieres
That fact sparked many emotions about breasts and the difficulties women still face: how to support breast health and comfort while enjoying fashion and style.
In an age of more and more metal detectors (often a form of sanctioned harassment of women in the name of “security”), women’s breasts and clothing continue to reinforce their vulnerability in modern society, as metal detectors penalize those wearing underwire bras. Underwire I captures my feelings about the admittedly useful but still far from perfect brassiere.
Mixed Media – Objects Evoking Memories, Pain
After I took out the foam cups, I put them on the table in my studio. As they sat there, they stirred many memories about being female, having breasts, and needing to wear a bra. I thought about my own experiences as well as those of my friends and family.
Those memories inspired me to create a work that evokes those memories and evokes the discomfort – and sometimes pain – associated with wearing women’s foundation garments.
Underwire I consists of the two foam brassiere cups, sewn with ivory crochet thread onto a heavy piece of cardboard that formed the base for a pad of watercolor paper. I had used the cardboard as a support to paint, and its shiny surface had traces of those paintings, which reinforced the idea of memories, traces of experience.
Between the cups, in the upside down triangle area that forms naturally between a woman’s breasts, I inserted a piece of broken china from our “good dishes.” I love the pattern and color of this china, and when one of the dinner plates broke I kept the pieces. In this case, the little triangle felt perfect: it’s bone china, and we humans are filled with bones. And it has red in the design, reminding me of blood drawn when an underwire goes haywire and pokes into the skin and of the red welts on skin after wearing a too tight bra.
I added brown packing threads, stuffed into the cups, as a way to recall the shame heaped on women decades ago if they stuffed their bras to try to make their breasts look bigger.
Below the cups is a vintage/distressed art hanging wire. Its sharp edges and dirtiness sum up how many a woman has felt at having to wear an underwire bra that doesn’t fit well or that pokes into her body.
Sneak Peek Online
You can get a sneak peek at the exhibition on the Woman Made website page for the 2019 Small Works Members’ Show show at https://womanmade.org/small-works-members-show-2018/
Opening Reception: Saturday, Dec. 7, 1 – 3 p.m.
The opening reception for the Small Works Members’ Show is on Saturday, Dec 7, 2019, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Works are on display from Friday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 15.
All events are free and open to the public.
Woman Made Gallery is located at 2150 S. Canalport Ave., #4A-3, Chicago, IL 60608.
Enter through the parking lot at the north entrance on 21st St. If necessary dial 271 on the callbox, and then press “Call.”
Gallery hours are Thursday and Friday, noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 312-738-0400 or visit http://womanmade.org