January 13, 2011
Richmond Center for Visual Arts, room 2008
Artist Panel Discussion with Ray DiCapua and Nancy Froehlich
In conjunction with the exhibition More Than Skin Deep: Portraits as Socio-Political Commentary.
The portrait is art's attempt to account for identity, to make sense of what it means to be an individual. It is in the experiences of contemporary life that personal identities have become fractured, complex, and splintered, and that our identities are in a state of constant re-definition. Similarly, contemporary art has also become more heterogeneous and disconnected, as major themes in art are less evident. While the origins of portraiture might be quite simple, even romantic, contemporary identity, contemporary art, and therefore contemporary portraiture are decidedly more complex. As a result, two of the most basic questions, "Who are we?" and "How do we relate?" share the same concern: they both struggle with the challenges of predispositions. More Than Skin Deep is an exhibition of three artists, Ray DiCapua, Nancy Froehlich, and Susan Moore who have each negotiated the intersection of these two questions with dramatic and thoughtful end results.
The subject matter in Ray DiCapua's work stems from a vision of human potential, social justice and political and civic responsibility. Another strong influence is his interest in the story of the constructed image of self and others, and how the unconscious patterned identity of this construct creates and recreates our world. Images from President Obama to Dick Chaney have been composed in a way that brings the viewer up close to the subjects, with surfaces, poses, and facial details composed to reflect how these international figures are assessed in our media-saturated environment.
Nancy Froehlich's Gender Series takes a look at transgender issues and the private/public display of a series of transvestites Nancy befriended while living in Baltimore "In my photography work I challenge the notion of gender as static and question the limiting binary choice of male/female. It is in this series that I found what I had set out to achieve: images that cross the line between male and female. With these images, a shade of gray between male and female, I explore the notion of gender as fluid and transformative, not static and ask the viewer to question their own assumptions when it comes to issues of gender.