5 Sneak Peeks into ‘Twenty-Three Sisters’
“For women without sisters, the intimate bond between females with a shared childhood is elusive.”
Those of you who aren’t able to visit Union South’s Gallery 1308 between now and September 30, we have the pleasure of sharing a few peeks into the “Twenty-Three Sisters” art exhibit. Curated by Katie Garth, the exhibit displays the works of 23 female sisterless artists responding to the absence of these relationships. Some fun, others longing, the art pieces vary greatly in both emotional feel and media. Read what some of the artists had to share, and take a look for yourself!
Brittany Kieler Sister
I have two older brothers and spent my childhood imitating and following them. My closest friends have always been women, but I’m not sure that I understand how to contribute to the momentous, transformative relationships I’ve known women to be capable of. Encounters with sisters leave me mystified. Sister reflects my perception of sisterhood as an apparition. I would have had a sister–or maybe I wouldn’t exist–if my parents’ first child hadn’t been stillborn. I’ve built up these ideas over the years of who she would have been, how we would have related to one another. If not physical, hers is a lasting spiritual presence in my life.
I love the challenge of articulating amorphous ideas within the set of restrictions that printmaking presents. The process of printing requires my undivided attention and complete sincerity. If in the wrong state of mind, if hurried, if over-eager, I am met with resistance. I’ve seen it completely re-frame the attitudes of children for the better, perplex and compel non-artists, and frustrate master printmakers to no end. The moment a print emerges from beneath a screen or through a press can be either infuriating or immensely validating. Both instances are of value to me.
Naomi Nakazato A Half and a Quarter (Irrelevant)
The piece is a combined portrait of my friend Connie and myself. I had started my series on half Japanese, half-European descent women (self-portraits included) in my final semester of my undergrad studies, and was told by my studio-mate at the time of her quarter-Japanese friend living a few hours away. Through Facebook and other means of connecting, Connie and I became fast friends who discovered ourselves and our identities through our new relationship. While I had found community through social media and local half-Japanese peoples, Connie had never had the opportunity to share her triumphs and struggles of multiple ethnicities, and our conversations allowed her to understand and question these things further.
While I am technically “more” Japanese than she is, she is fluent and understands the culture just as well, if not more so. This equality was so evident when we allowed ourselves to look past the initial commonalities, yet our ethnicities brought us closer than a typical friendship; we feel very much like sisters who have shared something very deep and biological. I respect her so much as a writer, an artist and a fellow human being, and I feel that this painting commemorates this mutual understanding.
Angela Richardson WANTED: SISTER(S)
I wanted to address the longing that many of us feel–especially when we are children–for a loving older sibling who will protect and advise us. I’m the elder of two. I have a younger brother. My experience growing up would have been very different with an older sister. This piece imagines that she is out there (in many potential forms) and that I might draw her to me with a simple invitation.
Much of my work is dialogic. It occurs in the exchange between myself and others. Not knowing what’s going to happen is the thing that makes doing this exciting. It’s an experiment. I take the risk to broadcast a wish for a big sister. How will the viewer respond? By wondering what a conversation with me would be like? By reflecting on her/his own desires around sisterhood? Maybe someone else who’s always wanted a little sister will take the risk and actually be in touch. And then what? What will we say to one another? I don’t know but I’m very curious to find out! Uncertain interactions like this open up the possibility for discovery.
I got a text during the opening reception before I arrived: “Hey sis, where are you?” I didn’t recognize the number and we had a playful back and forth for a few minutes before I realized that the sender was someone I knew. Interestingly, that didn’t diminish the joy of the exchange.
My fingers are crossed for additional participation. I’ll be putting more of my WANTED posters up around campus once school starts. We’ll see what happens.
Maren Munoz Sprinkle Sis
When I heard the premise for the show, I immediately thought about the void and sadness of not having a sister, which for me, was the most obvious direction to take with the work. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to focus on the kind of sisterhood that women without sisters are forced to seek out. We don’t have a “built-in” sister, so we have to go out and find our own. My piece is about the sister I discovered.
Relief printmaking is my specialty, so a linocut was a no-brainer. The idea of ice cream and sprinkles was the basis for the piece because they are the connection to the “sister” that this piece references. Putting the actual sprinkles on the piece was an afterthought, but now I can’t imagine it without them! I think you can expect to see more of them in future work. It was mainly fun for me to do something a little unorthodox (and not archival!) since for the most part, I use traditional printmaking techniques.
Maggie Sasso Woman Overboard
I began to approach the subject matter by reflecting on my past, but also having conversations with women (and little girls!) I know who do have sisters. As an only child who grew up in a rural environment (read no other children in the vicinity), I think I probably missed out by not having a sister, though it didn’t necessarily feel that way at the time. I had a vivid imagination that was encouraged by my artist parents, not that I imagined a sibling, but I did have to go to great lengths to play multiple fantastical roles by myself in the woods. A sister would have meant a playmate as a child, someone to bounce ideas off of and to act with. However, what I probably miss most is what it would be like to have a sister now.
I consider myself very lucky, because I have never wanted for loving people in my life, my parents and husband are wonderful and I have many friends that I consider sisters (and brothers) in spirit. What I mourn by not having a sister are the lost memories of those fantasy-filled, parent-free moments of the past.
When considering the functionality of this object there is one undeniable fact, it would take at least two people for it to work, one who is rescuing and one who is rescued. As an only child, those pants dangling in the air, are not an actual person but signify one, for me they became a surrogate, symbolic sister. A sister, who I’m sure throughout our relationship, would have become the rescuer or the rescued many times.
How do these art pieces change or steady your view on sisterhood? Share in the comments below and be sure to visit Gallery 1308 in person before September 30!