By Meredyth Cole
VANCOUVER — On January 15, Chinatown’s Ayden Gallery will be kicking off their latest exhibition, Gaze, a presentation that focuses on figurative work and portraiture of female artists.
The show aims to create a space where the female form is not just celebrated, but depicted by the people who inhabit that shape. Featuring the work of twelve artists (all of whom are locally based, save for two), Gaze will showcase a variety of mediums from collage to digital art. All of the pieces share an interest in flipping the power perspective that has dominated so much of art history. “Always, we have been the art subject,” curator Genevieve Michaels writes of women in art. “Only rarely the creators of our own depiction.”
When putting together the exhibition, Michaels chose artists whose work avoided the airbrushed fantasy of women’s bodies, instead opting for images that prioritized individuality over perfection. “I wanted to round out the show with diverse styles that still depicted bodies and sexuality realistically,” she says.
The artists who make up Gaze all share an interest in exploring the reality of living, viewing, and creating within a female body. Illustrator Chelsea O’Byrne’s sweet, quirky work belies fierceness — the girls she draws are playful and slightly deranged, like quiet nerds who might one day execute a spectacular revenge.
Another contributing artist, Jordan Westre, uses print media (the very medium that directs so much female objectification) to create her defiant collages. Often including nude figures, Westre’s pieces play with notions of vulnerability and authority, placing the female body at the center of this tension. Her work evokes the visual language of vintage advertising, bringing to mind the endless ways images of women have been (and still are) used to sell products.
Gallery-goers should see Gaze as an experiment — a hypothetical space that explores “what the visual landscape might look like dominated by a female perspective.” If the work of the twelve participating artists is anything to go by, this landscape is sure to be a beautiful and thought provoking one.
The opening reception of Gaze takes place on January 15 at 7 p.m. at Ayden Gallery in the International Village Mall. Admission is free of charge and there will be a set by Vancouver-based DJ BIKES.
Gaze runs at Ayden Gallery from January 15 until February 7.Ayden Gallery, BC, British Columbia, female artists, fine art, Gaze