On Friday, Sept. 27, the Wriston Art Center Galleries debuted their three new Fall exhibitions. Washington, D.C.-based artist Stephanie J. Williams, whose exhibition “Homegrown” is currently showing in the Kohler Gallery, opened the exhibitions with a lecture about her influences and inspirations in art. After the lecture, attendees were invited to partake in refreshments, chat with the artists and explore the three galleries at a reception.
“Homegrown” features dreamlike creatures made from fabric, wood and plenty of things in between. Williams clearly has a fascination with the body and its parts and plays with these ideas in her works, maneuvering and distorting her creatures in the manner in which a child plays with his toys. In her lecture, Williams began by discussing her artistic influences, and it should come as no surprise that Jim Henson, Garbage Pail Kids, Gumby and deep sea creatures feature high on that list. The weird, the wonderful and the inexplicable definitely heavily influence Williams’ artistic choices.
But what’s interesting about Williams art is where it begins. Even the show’s title, “Homegrown,” seems to be contradictory to Williams’ strange and almost disconcerting menagerie of characters—these aren’t homelike, they’re weird and unknown. But it’s this idea that Williams explores in her show. When asked about the origin of the title of her show, Williams explained that she was exploring the insular, the personal parts of her own body. “I look very much inside myself,” she explained in her lecture. While her work may seem unfamiliar or disconcerting, it’s actually made up of Williams’ most familiar, closest memories. There’s a “purposeful kind of awkwardness” to her work, a transformation of the familiar to the alien that serves to simultaneously familiarize the reader with her work and to prompt thought and questions.
In addition to Williams’ “Homegrown” in the Kohler Gallery, the Leech Gallery is featuring a show titled “Capturing Modernity: Art, Fashion and Artifice.” Curated by associate professor of art history Elizabeth Carlson, the show features fashion plates from around the world and explores poet Charles Baudelaire’s idea of the painter of modern life and the ephemeral and artificial nature of art in the modern world.
Alison Stehlik’s “Where-House” in the Hoffmaster gallery looks at similar themes in relation to the home, investigating the relationship between our houses and the things inside of them within the concept of the idea of a home. Her work asks difficult questions about modernity and artificiality, as well, considering the effects of materialism on our society and whether or not our connections to objects are too strong.
The new exhibitions are open until Nov. 27. Wriston Art Galleries are open Tuesday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday through Sunday from noon to 4:00 p.m, closed Mondays. Stop by and witness some great art right here on campus.