An Amazing Body of Work: Plus at Ark Gallery

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Plus, now at Ark Gallery in Altadena through March 18th, is a simply dazzling “body” of work. These luminous nude images are profoundly beautiful, in an ethereal curation that changes as the light changes in the gallery.

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Over the course of 90 minutes at the opening today, shadows fell and daylight shifted into darkness. A number of the works are suspended archival pigment prints on transparency film. These came alive and danced, just as their subject moved and danced in creating this astonishing work.

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Kristine Schomaker’s solo exhibition is both simple and profound, revealing powerful, intimate images that spark a deep conversation about body image and beauty.

Schomaker has consistently – in a variety of different works that we’ve had the pleasure to witness evolve over the past four years – boldly discussed dealing with an eating disorder, body image, and self-esteem. This work continues and transcends that discussion.

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“As an artist, my work is always about exploration, experimentation, education, communication. It is about me. It is about my life. It is an autobiography,” Schomaker asserts.

Plus was a spontaneous creation by the artist during a hotel stay: post- sunrise serendipity and forgetting to turn off a bathroom light, formed the opportunity to shape her new body of work. 

A sliding bathroom door with frosted glass, a glow behind that door, an artist’s eye. The inspiration of art history, Reubens, Arbus. And an iPhone.

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Schomaker playfully began shooting photos on a timer and on blast, feeling free, playful, and having fun. With the frosted glass between her body and the camera she was able to create silhouettes that “focused on form, line and shape.” She began to see her body as an instrument for creating the beauty of art.

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“Through art, I have learned to face my fears in order to move forward and love myself. Or at least try to,” Schomaker says. “This new body of work is about confrontation, weight, shape, excess, history, voyeurism, objectification, control, confinement, containment, self esteem, confidence, bravery, revealing and concealing, authenticity.”

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Deeply personal, the key words that describe this exhibition to viewers include transcendent, joyful, and evocative. The framed prints on fine art paper and the suspended transparency films that both comprise this exhibition each offer depictions of the wild wonder of the human body.

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They reveal our capacity for joy; the ability of our bodies to allow that joy. They are defiant and bold, delicate shadows, triumphant and infused with longing. 

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The beautiful curation, in which viewers can stand between and weave among the large-scale suspended images, as if they too were reflected in that hotel room’s mirrored glass, adds to the overall magical quality of the exhibition.

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There is something primal, something pure about the shadowed images Schomaker has taken of herself.

“It is a hyper-personal exploration of being overweight. It is about taking control of my body in a time where #metoo is about our bodies being controlled by someone else,” she says.

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She calls it liberating, reclaiming, and an ode to the lost love of one’s self.

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The work here is quite simply what art is supposed to be: vulnerable and inspiring, moving and relatable, lovely to see, provocative to contemplate. If art is a mirror, then we are seeing ourselves, our fears, our pleasures, our vindication. If art is a call to action, then the empowerment of these photographic works cannot be denied. If art is about capturing and preserving beauty, then these somewhat amorphous forms, their luscious light, their visual – and yes, spiritual, glow certainly does that as well.

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In short, Schomaker has hit this out of the ballpark, and Kira Vollman’s beautiful open space at Ark is the perfect setting to explore images of exceptional luminosity.

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An Artist Talk is scheduled for February 11, 3-5pm; a closing reception will be held March 18, 2-5pm.

ARK is located at 2599 Fair Oaks Ave in Altadena.

Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis 

 

 

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