Review: Nasty Women Exhibition Lubbock
“Such a nasty woman.”
-D. J. Trump, speaking of H. R. Clinton, 10/19/2016
Of the more offensive comments made by the president elect (as of this writing) to convey his esteem for half of the U.S. populace, this is the one that stuck. Immediately a synecdoche for Trump’s character and the self-normalizing, implicit sexism we’ve yet to work through collectively, the remark set off unnumbered think pieces and numbered art exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. In this spirit is shown Lubbock’s Nasty Women exhibition, on view now at the Texas Tech Satellite Gallery.
Carol Flueckiger "Solitude of Self"
The open-call exhibition shows works by 38 women artists working in all media, broadly under the umbrella of feminism, specifically addressing the equality, individuality, sexuality, and identity of women, especially as it diverges from those attributes as defined traditionally. Carol Flueckiger’s print “Solitude of Self” depicts a silhouetted girl’s head, the top half of which has the same color as the sky in the composition’s background, and over the blue is written in script scraps of prose and poetry. Thoughts contained in and filling the head of the girl shown is a succinct, if straightforward, assertion of her individual personhood.
Billie Parsons: “Quiet”
A sculpture of cedar and pig intestine, Billie Parsons’ “Quiet” avoids by its name the implication of a musical instrument (the piece does initially resemble something percussive). Resisting easy interpretation, her sculpture is a cedar sheet, vertically painted in blue stripes and sewn with gut into a tree trunk-like cylinder. The wood is held in its shape like a garment, from a distance giving the impression of flora, but showing itself to be a human hand’s assemblage of flora and fauna. It’s hard to tell what weight should be given to each of these three, but alternating among them, as a viewer, makes it work I think.
Kat Truth: "Don't Touch my Box"
Hiding under the (skillfully) blaring straightforwardness of Kat Truth’s “Don’t Touch my Box” is the modest request motivating the exhibition: femininity is personal, valid, and not for unpermitted ‘touching’ or devaluation. A bottom-up perspective of a sculpted vagina in a sealed box leaves little room for interpretation.
Stacy Elko: “Baba Yaga Comes in for a Landing”
Stacy Elko’s woodcut “Baba Yaga Comes in for a Landing” shows the full extent of the Russian folk character’s legend. Chicken leg-mounted house, mortar, pestle, and all, Baba Yaga’s effects contextualize her as the enigmatic helper and curse of those who encounter her. Not as a creative work but as an invocation of the character in context, Elko’s piece asserts by way of reference the varied, many-dimensional roles of women in a society.
Feminism is inherently reactionary; after all there can be no responding demand for equality without an initiating oppression. Nasty Women is reactionary in the spirit of all great struggles for justice, but also in the spirit of asserting loudly in response to a single man’s ugly assertions. In this way I think it on one level conforms to the shape of Mr. Trump’s initiating remark and its focus shifts to something louder, more immediate, and less helpful to the movement overall: reactionary, but a different kind. Not all the work was adding anything new beyond the reactionary, but the exhibition was worth mounting nonetheless. (Editor's Note: This exhibition has raised approximately $1500 benefitting Women's Protective Services.)
*The author's opinions are his own.