In the Gallery: Outspoken

Rania Matar, Hiba, Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, Beirut, Lebanon, 2010, archival pigment print, 28"x42"

Outspoken at Middlesex: Six Women Photographers

At the Cornelius Ayer Wood Gallery

Feb. 2 – Apr. 28, 2016

Opening Reception: Feb. 2, 6:30 – 8:30 PM. Open to the public.

Curated by photographer and educator, Marky Kauffmann, Outspoken at Middlesex: Six Women Photographers features the images of six women photographers who seek to capture the voices of women and girls. These photographs challenge cultural assumptions and provoke the viewer to ask what is right, fair, or possible. Do we hear the voices of women and girls? What does it mean to be “outspoken”?

Rania Matar, a two-time Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow in Photography, shows large color photographs from her series titled A Girl in Her Room. Her images capture the passage from girlhood to adulthood in both American and Middle Eastern cultures. These are joyful and thoughtful portraits of girls poised to take flight. They are about female identity in the making.

Nancy Grace Horton, a NH Arts Council Grant recipient, displays color photographs that come from her series titled “Ms. Behavior.” In this body of work, Horton investigates female roles influenced by mass media. These humorous and feminist critiques hold a mirror up to society.

Emily Schiffer, a Magnum Foundation grant winner and Fulbright Fellow, presents intimate portraits of Native American girls on a Cheyenne reservation in South Dakota. Schiffer says of her subjects, “In these early years, girls express themselves with a frankness and openness that often dissipates in adolescence,” and she tries to capture their “joy, love, and pain.”

Tira Khan, a video producer and photographer at Sugarhouse Media, documents moments of family life. Her candid portraits of her daughters and of others explore the truth of prepubescent lives.

Sally Edelstein, an active member of WomenUnite.org creates complex photographic collages that satirize popular culture.  Her collages highlight what it means and has meant to grow up female in America.

Marky Kauffmann, a two-time Massachusetts Cultural Council finalist in Photography, presents provocative large-scale portraits of older women as part of her series titled “Lost Beauty.” These altered faces challenge the viewer to question our cultural obsession with youth and beauty in spite of the inevitable effects of aging.

Show Statement

This is a show about the voices of women and girls.  Do we hear them?  Despite many cultural gains, there are still battles to be won.  Women and girls need to speak out, not only to survive, but also to thrive.  And they need to be heard!

The images in this show ask the viewer to question assumptions about what is fair, right, or possible for women and girls.  What do girls get to do or be before the cultural onslaught inevitable comes?  If growing up is in part about gaining power over our lives, then what do girls gain or lose as they navigate the hurdles with which they are confronted?  What happens to the search for identity in a patriarchal world?  As a female, do I dare stand out, shout out, be outspoken?

For those who do not see society’s preconceptions, the unequal course of power, or the limits imposed by prescribed gender rolls, these photographs are saying: “Listen! Look carefully!  Do you see everything that is in play?”  The issues of self-awareness, the growth toward full identity, the chance to attain real power over our bodies and our lives, are concerns for everyone.  For women and girls, to be “outspoken” is to rise individually and in solidarity with one another, so that our voices are heard.

Image courtesy of the artist and Carroll and Sons Gallery, Boston

Rania Matar, Hiba, Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, Beirut, Lebanon, 2010, archival pigment print, 28"x42"

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