Do you want a piece of me? Zipora Fried and Rachel Howe present individual works that call for emotional involvement in the process of artistic inquiry. The viewer’s initial impressions and opinions of objects and subjects, materiality and artistic technique are challenged and directed towards a more in-depth psychological and thus, more human, if not humane, association. The gestural simplicity of Fried and Howe’s works belies the significance and relevance of each form or object chosen by the artists. Fried’s works center around a selection of conventional objects which are altered physically, often subtly, and convey an entirely different conceptual meaning and import.
Two Thonet beechwood chairs face each other as if in conversation, but are converted into elegant but simple operatives of danger; at the end of each arm emerges a precariously sharp and threatening knife blade. Five ski masks, aligned on a shelf are fashioned out of wool with subtle embroidery that blocks out the possibility of sight or speech. Fried’s graphite drawing on paper hangs the height of the gallery down to the floor and becomes sculptural, a solid column of graphite with a seemingly endless undulation of smooth texture. Fried transforms wordless, familiar forms into new identities, thus bridging the gap between outward perception and inner-meaning.
Howe’s drawings focus on fictional teenage girls, who are frequently concealed by patterns, textures, slogans, musical references and symbols of gothic subculture. Howe examines the hidden fears, anxieties and search for identity that may be obscured by a more superficial and fortified presentation of image. The strong emotional undercurrent of these drawings points to the potential for insecurity and incompleteness behind any coherent mask of identity. Howe uses a No. 2 pencil to render her subjects in frequently incomplete form—the absence of academic perfection in the drawings supporting the alienation that phrases such as “Things have really been hell for me lately” proclaim. Howe’s choice of teenage subjects in their struggle for personal veracity and self-protection tackles broader issues of social delusion, truth, inclusion or exclusion, and the friction between external and internal identity.
Whether examining the personal or public, domestic or political, the embrace of the textural and elemental variety in the artists’ pieces challenges the viewer’s reliance on assumption and familiarity and provokes a more profound investigation of their work.