The Contemporary Frequency: Women in Today’s Arts is currently on view at gallery F of the Scarritt-Bennett Center, and it’s worth more than a moment of your time. A walk through the gallery feels like the grand tour of your first apartment; it doesn’t take long, but there are plenty of stories to tell. Surprisingly, Women in Today’s Arts is not an overtly opinioned exhibition. Sabine Schlunk and Patricia Earnhardt, the show’s curators, have resisted an introductory text filled with “isms” and “ologies,” and as a result the exhibition feels like a true collaboration between curator and artist. Each artist’s voice remains unrestricted, something critical to the success of the show, because the six women artists whose work is represented are ready to confront a whole host of issues, including interactivity, community, race, and yes, womanhood.
Contemporary Frequency: Women in Today’s Arts is divided into two rooms, each with a decidedly different personality. The first room is interactive, involving sound, video, and music; the second room is more wall-bound, containing photographs, paintings, and mixed media work. Moving from one room to the next means a transition from sound to silence, and also from three dimensions to two. It’s a productive contrast, and the separation creates rich, thought provoking connections between artworks. The show begins just inside the front door with Rhendi Greenwell’s sculpture Vessels, an arrangement of partially filled glass bottles standing upright on the floor. Vessels is the remnant of a performance at gallery F in honor of International Women’s Day (March 8), in which participants transformed the bottles into musical instruments by striking, blowing, and pouring. The room also features Greenwell’s Observational Wax and Wane, a video that captures a woman’s facial responses to off-camera events. The room also includes Robbie Hunsinger’s Emergent Convergence, a new media installation consisting of a video monitor, motion detector, and musical track. Movement in the gallery activates the video monitor, which sends dots of color across a black screen. The dots begin to accumulate and the viewer expects an image to emerge, but the process never fully completes or resolves itself. The work will have you pacing around the room trying to keep the image and the music coming.
Sierra Faye Mitchell’s large-format photograph A Conversation That Started With Your Eyes and Ended in My Disgrace marks a shift in the show. A series of her photographs are included in the gallery’s second room, and their strong tones exert a natural gravitational pull. Mitchell creates characters in her photographs that are both contemporary and historical, and uses the photographic lens to create an artificial meeting place. A Conversation That Started With Your Eyes and Ended in My Disgrace is good hair vs. bad hair, slave owner vs. slave, blue-eyed vs. brown eyed all rolled into one. Her photographs add depth to the exhibition, and are as beautifully posed as they are executed.
The Contemporary Frequency: Women in Today’s Arts will be on view at gallery F until May 21st, 2011 with a special artist talk at the gallery on April 19th at 7:00 PM. gallery F is located at 1000 19th Avenue South in Nashville. Click here for directions, or contact the gallery at 615.320.4651.