Painter Lalla Essaydi unveils new work at the Williams College Museum of Art

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Williamstown – This week the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) unveils bold new work by contemporary artist Lalla Essaydi in which she challenges the worldview of 19th-century French painter, Jean-Léon Gérôme. The exhibition juxtaposes Gérôme’s iconic painting The Slave Market, generously loaned by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, with four paintings by Essaydi. Together, the works in this installation form a dialogue across space, time, and cultures. All of the paintings in the exhibition depict classically rendered figures and evocative architectural settings; while the French picture invites voyeurism and stereotypes the so-called ‘Orient,’ Essaydi’s paintings will not allow it. All her figures gaze right back at us and command respect, be they male, female, or hermaphrodite. Complementing the monumental photographs of women, for which she is already well known, these paintings challenge our assumptions of North Africa to foster cross-cultural awareness. Lalla Essaydi received a B.F.A. from Tufts University in 1999 and an M.F.A. from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University in 2003. Essaydi works in a variety of media, including analog photography, oil on canvas, mixed media, and video. Her photographs have been the subject of the exhibition Converging Territories, and she has been included in numerous group exhibitions including the critically acclaimed Nazar: Photographs from the Arab World. Artist Statement: “In a sense, I am a Western artist, making art in a style I was unable to use in my home country, Morocco. But I am also the slave girl of that painting, in that I am a woman from an Arab culture. And, to go a step further, I am Gérôme, painting nude subjects. I want in my paintings to combine all these elements, in order to engage the whole problem of myself as “other”… In my paintings, I am hoping not only to expose the Orientalist gaze, and the facile assumptions it has engendered, but also to present my own culture as honestly as I can. Above all, I try to present myself in something like my true complexity—as a woman, as an Arab woman living in the West, mediating between worlds, as an artist. It is not a fixed identity, but one that is changing as the world changes and as my life changes…” –Lalla Essaydi
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Berkshire Art Association's "RE*Fresh" Opens Oct. 7

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Art Association opens its biennial show, RE*Fresh, on Oct. 7 

The show runs from 5 to 8 p.m. during Pittsfield’s monthly First Fridays Artswalk. An Awards Reception will be held Saturday, Oct. 8 from 3 to 5 p.m, and show will be on display through November 26 at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts. 

RE*Fresh speaks of the challenges, inspirations and new possibilities presented over the past two years. These issues are expressed and explored by 36 artists from the Northeast United States.

In the juried show, 44 works including paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography and graphic design will be presented, offering wide-ranging interpretations of the theme. 

Jurors for the exhibit are Kinney Freylinguysen, artist and director of the Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio, Lenox, Massachusetts, and Genevieve Gaignard, a multi-disciplinary artist based in Los Angeles and Massachusetts. 

"I was so impressed by the variety of work submitted to this exhibit. From direct messaging to thoughtful reflections to abstract visual feasts, this show is a refreshing presentation of the creativity and talent of our art community. It has been my utter pleasure and absolute privilege to have been a part of it," said Sean McCusker, Berkshire Art Association Assistant Treasurer.

Berkshire County artists included in RE*Fresh are Carolyn Abrams, Karen Bognar-Khan, Marguerite Bride, Joan Burkhard, Kasha Cooper, Kit Curry, Margaret Dotchin, Patricia Frik, Adrian Holmes, Marion Grant, Sarah Horne, Karen Kane, Ronald Maitland, John Mancia, Mark Mellinger, Alan Papscun, Ivor Parry, Barbara Patton, Janet Pumphrey,  Ilene Richards, William Riley, Stacey Silkey Schultze, Ilene Spiewak, Kyle Strack, Scott Taylor, Jay Tobin, Jesse Tobin McCauley, Diane Wespiser and Terri Wise.

Artists from the greater Northeast region include Carrie Crane, Lydia Kinney, Julie Eisen-Lester, Joan Lengel, Kristina McComb, Janell O’Rourke, and Meg Rogers Eldredge.

All Commonwealth of Massachusetts and City of Pittsfield public health guidelines will be followed. To view this show virtually or in person, call 413 499 9348 for an appointment.

For moreinformation, go to berkshireartassociation.org

 

 

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