Colorful, creative representations of wellness and women’s issues danced off the walls of the Harris Gallery Tuesday as the “dEE-lie-LA, Poderosa, The Healers, An Exploration of Wellness, a SUR:biennial exhibition,” held its reception.
Curated by Martin Durazo, whose work is also displayed in the Campus Center, the exhibition consists of the work of 13 women artists.
As for the three-part name, it has a dual meaning, rich with references to works of literature and film.
“dEE-lie-La,” Dirazo said, references the story of Samson and Delilah and how she was able to “overcome his masculine power.” “Poderosa” references the motorcycle in the “Motorcycle Diaries” called the Poderosa, which means “a female entity that can keep going no matter what.”
As for the healing aspect, he said it is self explanatory.
The gallery was filled with pieces commenting on and representing physical, mental and spiritual health.
One such piece was Claudia Huiza’s “Falling Leaves,” situated near the entrance, in the middle of the room. The piece consisted of colorful articles of clothing sewn together vertically, with two silver shoes ending this train of material on the floor.
Huiza described the piece as a self portrait, as all of the clothing items are pieces of performance-wear she has worn in the past. The soft sculpture is a commentary on how society judges women based on what they wear.
“Through all this, we’re falling apart, but we remain whole,” she said, just like the articles of clothing themselves.
Her artwork is inspired by and named after a silent film called “Falling Leaves,” directed by Alice Guy Blaché, who was the first female filmmaker. The film deals with plot points concerning health and medical treatment, which inspired Huiza because, not only is she an artist, but she is also a clinical researcher.
To the left of Huiza’s work and displayed on the wall through the use of a projector was Micol Hebron’s “Fountains,” a 1999 piece which she created while in graduate school. The excerpt displayed was a single channel video taken from an original six channel video featuring herself sitting in a chair in seven different monochromatic outfits vomiting the color she was wearing.
The piece speaks to a few different ideas. First, the pressure of being expected to constantly produce as an artist while being creative, revealing what’s inside. Another was that this was a way of producing a self portrait of her experience with an autoimmune disease she has. The third idea plays on the expression, often used in reference to women, of being just as beautiful on the inside as the outside, which she said is a superficial cliche that is trying to mask misogynist thinking.
“I took that saying really literally and I was trying to show that my insides were exactly the same color as my outsides in this case as a way to kind of poke at the logic of making that kind of statement, especially toward a female bodied person,” she said.
Venturing into ideas of spiritual and emotional well-being, as visitors moved across the room, they were met with photographer Kiki Seror’s “Lunar Mazalot Series,” which featured six different prints of the moon on the same night, years apart. The result displayed swirling, dancing images of the moon and its light across a dark page.
Seror, who mentioned that she loves that the University still teaches analog photography, described her series as a one on one process, involving herself, her camera and the light of the moon. She studies different forms of healing and describes the lunar cycle as a healing cycle itself.
“To be in touch with a woman force is to be touched with a healing force,” she said of the fact that this was a show that featured all women’s work.
Visitors were welcome to ask the artists and curator questions about their process and what the art means to them, something that University President Pardis Mahdavi appreciated about the show.
“I love that this is a gallery that also invites in members of the community and showcases the artworks of such a diverse array of artists,” Mahdavi said.
The theme as well as the inclusion of female artists seemed to be celebrated amongst visitors as well, with many of them pointing out the fact that much of what we know about art and art history involves male artists.
“A lot of the time it kind of depicts women as a sort of muse and it never really shows how she feels or what it is that she is experiencing,” said junior art history major Maya Sanchez, who feels it is important to showcase women’s work.
This exhibition will run through Oct. 12 and there will be two more exhibitions in the Harris Gallery this semester.
Olivia Modarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.