The Weeks Gallery has a new exhibition In Our Own Skin, featuring phenomenal pieces by artists Stacey Davidson and Jenny Schmid. On the walls of the gallery you will see all sorts of images of people you can relate to: people who are haughty; people who yearn for small compliments; people who are out of control with desire for clothes, drinks, thinness—desires that can never really be satisfied. You’ll see. This exhibition captures the imperfections that everybody has and shows that even our flaws can be beautiful.
Schmid’s Material World Temptations (2003) is my favorite piece because I felt a strong connection with the girl in the image. In the piece, an adolescent girl is shown reading a teen magazine filled with advertisements for things every girl wants. The girl has a credit card in her hand and price tags galore. The price tags say funny things like “Billion $,” “Tons of $,” or “Too much!”
I think this image pulled me, because like other girls, as an adolescent, I was sometimes preoccupied with new clothes, beauty products, and worrying about popularity instead of the real necessities in life. Two parts of this artwork especially capture my attention. There is a little devil-like figure in the bottom right corner who appears to be pulling money out of the girl’s pocket. The girl has lots of cash, even though it is not enough for her to get all of the things she desires. Schmid also shows a cute dress next to girl’s eyes, and she looks like she is literally drooling as she envisions herself wearing it.
When asked about her work, Schmid says that her “work explores gender, identity, and liberty, drawing from the tradition of social commentary while creating a decidedly humorous take on the question of how identities are constructed.” In Material World Temptations, she portrays how greed and vanity can be shown, while also showing, on a larger scale, how materialistic the world encourages girls to be. Perhaps if the world did not anticipate such a flawless image for all women, girls would be less into material goods and focus more on being their true selves.
Personally, Material World Temptations makes me question women’s freedom. Though it is the 21st century, women are still slaves to society’s expectations for them. I think Schmid’s work captures the essence of limited liberty for women by portraying a young woman as greedy and vain. It may be that a girl like this is only thought to be vain because society’s double standards are at work. Society pushes women to take on the image of “perfection,” yet reprimands them for being like this girl who wants all these things to define her beauty.
Stacey Davidson shows her thoughts and ideas through the creation of dolls and paintings. My favorite work by Davidson is her hanging installation called Narcissus. It shows a man in a vibrant blue garment, dangling from his feet by a long, decorative gold rope over a body of water.
Narcissus is a character from Greek mythology, and his story gives us the words “narcissist” and “narcissism.” Narcissus was a very arrogant, proud, and handsome man who captured the hearts of many. Noticing Narcissus’s attitude, another character, Nemesis, leads him to a pool where Narcissus becomes so infatuated with his beautiful reflection that he does not leave the pool and drowns.
Davidson excellently captures the history and context of this ancient Greek story through her artwork. I think this piece is beautiful both physically and communicatively. Viewers are reminded of the sadness and familiarity of seeing someone who is really vain.
What fascinated me the most about this artwork is that Davidson seems to be mocking the idea of vanity, as vanity is hard to avoid in our consumer driven world. I can personally relate to this piece, as I went to high school with a large group of people who were so vain and arrogant about their physical beauty that it was very comical.
Weeks Gallery director Patricia Briggs has an abundance of exhibition programs happening throughout the In Our Own Skin show, including exciting workshops with students and teachers and artist talks hosted by the artists themselves.
The Weeks Gallery is so much more than just some artwork on the walls — this gallery is very community-oriented, and it is easy to get involved. The Weeks Gallery is a unified area where all are welcome to come and connect on an intimate level, while enjoying the artwork surrounding them. Simply sign up to be on our mailing list and get involved in the fun activities hosted here!
This exhibition is a must-see. Check it out through December 10. I work there on Tuesdays and Thursdays and would love to give you a tour!
Gallery Hours: Monday through Friday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and by appointment, Saturday: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.