|"National Anthem" by Kota Ezawa (video)|
|"Born Athlete: Simone Biles" by Jeanette Mundt (oil)|
In an adjacent room, Jeanette Mundt's paintings remind us of another issue ripped from the headlines -- the abuse of young female gymnasts at the hands of their coaches. This was not, however, Mundt's intention. In fact, she started the series before the scandal broke. Instead, her goal was to draw attention to the dichotomy between the athleticism of these premiere athletes and their make-up and glittery costumes. What, she asks, is beauty? (Note: Mundt drew from a series of stop time photographs of the gymnasts by the NY Times to create this work.)
|"Centinelas" (Sentinels) by Daniel Lind-Ramos|
In this assemblage, Lind-Ramos pays homage to the women who stayed behind during the battle and kept watch over the city. I love the strength of these women made of steel bars, burlap, plywood and the like. The denuded palm trees that frame them are a reference both to Puerto Rico's landscape and to the devastation of Hurricane Maria. (In his "Maria-Maria"--also in the show--Lind-Ramo's figure wears a FEMA tarp as a dress.)
|"Stick" by Simone Leigh|
Leigh's work has many influences, including African and African-American cultural traditions. The skirt of this woman mimics the shape of an adobe structure you might find in an African village. But it is also reminiscent of the skirt worn by Aunt Jemima. This similarity is not coincidental. When traveling in Mississippi, Leigh came upon a restaurant called Mammy's Cupboard that is shaped like Aunt Jemima. Yes, this restaurant is still open for business in 2019. To see a picture, click here.
|"Robe" by Diane Simpson|
Her sculptures are inspired primarily by garment design -- from the wardrobe of a Samurai warrior to the bonnet of an Amish woman. Much of her work, like this stunning robe, has a distinctly like Art Deco feel. It was quite beautiful and felt a bit like an oasis in the midst of the politically charged Biennial.
Stay tuned for more from the Biennial -- after a foray into the world of Book Expo.