Curated by fine art photographer Brooke Mason, “AWAKEN: the female voice,” an exhibition of multimedia work created by female artists, opened April 21 and runs through June 27th at the Plummer Park Community Center in West Hollywood.
The show features nine artists’ take on the transformation of a young woman over the first half of her life. Artists include Fatemeh Burnes, Lola Del Fresno, Diane Holland, Julienne Johnson, Camella DaEun Kim, Nicole Landau, Feng Ling, Brooke Mason, and Mei Xian Qiu.
A passionate feminist, Australian-born curator Mason explains the theme of the show. “When a girl is young, she doesn’t understand boundaries or social parameters … somewhere between the ages of 10 and 15 she starts to sense these restrictions; she questions her role in her environment. She chooses either to fight them and deal continuously with conflict or to conform to them… until she is old enough to rebel against them seriously. As artists we strive to highlight these struggles.”
Below, Mason’s “Soar” – a leashed ballerina struggles to rise above the limitations prescribed to her.
Each of the artists has a unique approach to this transformative time. Some works highlight a child’s freedom of expression, innocence, and liberty; others depict the challenges of societal rules and the restrictions of adulthood. The goal of each participating artist is to inspire through their work.
Participating artist Fatemeh Burnes describes her haunting works as offering “complex levels of comprehension” which “provoke a multiplicity of responses. I resist at every turn our tendency to simplify the world by categorizing it into kinds of things, or kinds of art. There are no categories for me, only experiences.” Burnes’s work is focused on nature around and within us, and the history each individual makes that is “defined not by time but by energy.”
Lola Del Fresno, originally from Madrid, Spain, works with abstract realism, focusing on the human figure. “I like to work on life size paintings or larger. Usually I choose nakedness to avoid any social reference. These are confrontational pieces that face the viewer with the experience of the inner self.”
Above, Diane Holland, right, next to the work of Feng Ling. Below, Holland stands in front of her own works.
Diane Holland uses electro transfer and Cibachrome photography in her artwork, which examines the affects of cultural imprinting on herself and on others. “I hope to serve as a catalyst, signalling creative interplay between myself and others… I am interested primarily in exploring how we can create, broaden and experience ourselves as human beings at a deeper level, and affect wider social change.”
Painter Mei Xian Qiu creates astonishingly delicate images with a deep message. “My art is ultimately about individualism and cultural identity in an increasingly global society,” she relates. Awash in rosy pink, her “Leda” is blindfolded with a swan looking on. The piece is rendered with a timeless attention to detail and has the quality of a sensual fairy tale.
Julienne Johnson, whose mixed media work “Chandler” includes acrylic, charcoal, crayon, graphite and pigment transfers on paper and fabric, works entirely with her hands, eschewing brushes. “I make art to communicate what I cannot communicate with words… It takes a whole lot of passion and persistence when you are trying so desperately to trade ashes for beauty.”
Camella DaEun Kim, Nicole Landau, Feng Ling, and curator Mason are also a part of this exhibition.
Above, Mason’s provocative piece “Glass Ceiling” depicts a naked woman and a naked man positioned over and under a glass panel.
Above, Mason with her work, “Soar.”
“The exhibit is all local female artists. I chose work that is not only beautiful but conveys strength comparative to the artist,” Mason notes. A former international model, Mason recently curated another exhibit in West Hollywood, “Women Manifest: At The Core,” now on display at the WeHo Arts Exhibition Space at the West Hollywood Library. She knows quite well the constraints put on women, and is bold in her presentation of female images. “People see what they want to see in my work, it’s up to interpretation… any reaction is a good one for me.”
Presented with support from the City of West Hollywood through WeHo Arts, the show will run from Thursday, April 21 through Monday, June 27 at the Plummer Park Community Center, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard in the Art Room. It can be viewed during regular Community Center hours, from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., seven days a week.
To learn more about the City of West Hollywood and its arts projects, visit www.weho.org/arts
- Genie Davis; Photos from weho.org/arts and Joshua Barash