Food for Thought
Shoestring Studio presents “Body Talk:”
Art that subverts the feminine ideal
December 15 - January 15, 2018
BROOKLYN, December 5, 2017— Shoestring Studio proudly presents “Body Talk,” a multimedia exhibition that presents figurative works in dialogue and challenges traditional notions of femininity. The exhibition consists of new works by Jenny Carolin and Alexis Neider, as well as video of the Brooklyn-based artists' collaborative performance, the "Great Feminist Bake-off." The show will be on view from December 15, 2017 - January 15, 2018, with an opening reception December 15 from 6 - 8 pm at 640 Classon Ave, in Brooklyn. For more information, visit www.shoestringstudiony.com.
Cake as an Artistic Medium
Carolin and Neider are both figure painters who incorporate food into their work.
“The process of baking has always reminded me of the process of painting,” Carolin says. “You start with a recipe, a set of instructions and a sense of intention, and then at some point, for me at least, you’re just flying by the seat of your pants, hoping your training kicks in and praying whatever comes out of the oven is edible. The element of performance kicks in when you start to contemplate your audience. All of a sudden you’re playing the part of the artist, and the proof is in the pudding when it comes to the painting. I also love when everything goes wrong. That’s why I started doing a series of cooking show videos.”
“Alexis and I both admire Jenny Saville – how her paint handling is so viscous. She deconstructs the female form and makes it fleshy and unseemly, and she often uses herself and incorporates her own figure into her work.” Other inspiration includes Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), and the many faces of Cindy Sherman.
“Painting mimics baking in its materiality, mess, and in the creation of something whole, and yet a beautiful cake is one that doesn’t allude to its making,” says Neider, on the relationship between painting and cake in her own work. Using domestic tropes and feminist theory, her practice examines conventional forms in new ways--often by mis-using objects (for example, by stepping in cake). By reframing sweets, textiles, and other objects as graceful yet defiant, she invites viewers to complicate notions of femininity, contemplate more nuanced meanings, and find humor and beauty in the mis-use of objects.
With the recent opening of The Brooklyn Museum’s "Roots of 'The Dinner Party:' History in the Making," Carolin acknowledges the influence of Judy Chicago’s trailblazing work. "Chicago’s 'Dinner Party' sets a place for all these feminist artists and poets that had previously been excluded from the conversation of history. In a sense, our collaboration continues in that tradition of dialogue and exchange. When Alexis and I worked on the script for the performance, we made a list of all the positive and negative attributes of feminism we could think of, because we needed to have an idea of what it means, to us, to be feminists in this political climate. We had to take a reading on our opinion of feminism before we could approach it from a position of humor."
About the Artists
Jenny Carolin received her Masters in Fine Arts with a concentration in Painting from Syracuse University, and her Bachelors in Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art and Design. The desire to find movement and expression in two dimensional work led her to expand her practice to include performance, video and installation. Currently she serves as the director of the community studio space, classroom and gallery Shoestring Studio, in Brooklyn, New York, where she also instructs classes and pursues her studio practice. She is the co-founder of the Mudhouse Residency in Crete and the Athena Standards Residency in Athens, Greece. www.jennycarolin.com, @jennyjennyc (instagram)
Alexis Neider is a painter, printmaker, and NYC public school teacher. Her work combines domestic tropes and figurative elements with feminist theory to deconstruct (sometimes literally) conventional forms. Alexis’ work addresses questions of gender, domesticity, subversion, and abstraction. Alexis has exhibited internationally in Budapest and Spain, and in NYC at Local Project, A.I.R. Gallery, Clemente Soto Velez Center, Centotto Galleria, Steuben Gallery, Pratt Institute, Cuchifritos Gallery, Brian Morris Gallery, and Spacewomb. She has attended residencies at Can Serrat, A.I.R. Budapest, Fowler Dune Shack Residency, and Catwalk Artist residency. She lives and creates art in Brooklyn, NY. http://alexisneider.com/home.html @alneider
About Shoestring Studio
Shoestring Studio is a membership-based art studio serving painters, draftsmen, illustrators, and other artists in need of workspace, community, and shared resources. Its primary mission is to provide affordable, accessible workspace for artists in Crown Heights and the greater Brooklyn area.
Cooking, With a Feminist Twist
“The Great Feminist Bake-off” was a performance staged as a competition that pitted Carolin and Neider’s feminist credentials, inextricably linked to their baking abilities, along with a few surprises for the live audience. Following in the vein of popular baking shows like “The Great British Bakeoff,” Neider and Carolin prepared a series of cakes in different stages of readiness, along with a measure of feminist satire.
For example, using bags of food coloring, Carolin’s cakes were designed to bleed, as a statement to a woman’s menstrual cycle, an aesthetically pleasing simulacra of a dirty, shameful occurrence. Neider’s cakes contained hidden firecrackers and exploded, paying homage to the unpredictable female temper.
“We were both competing against each other to prove our creative capacity in baking while trying to subvert the narrative,” says Carolin. The audience voted on the winner, with everyone enjoying slices of the edible art after the show’s finale. The performance was part of an evening of performances, music and burlesque, which raised more than $4,000, with proceeds benefitting the Lady Parts Justice League and ProPublica.
A viewing station in one section of the gallery allows visitors to experience "The Great Feminist Bake-off" in its entirety through a video screen projection and headphones.
"Body Talk," a show of new works, is their latest project. The show places in dialogue Neider's figurative oil paintings with Carolin's figurative charcoal drawings. The works of both artists are large, and the body--or fragments of the body--occupy much of the space. The viewer is asked to interact with tempting or uncomfortable situations: imagining one's own foot stepping into a cake or passing judgment on a character whose actions might feel familiar.
Neider's series, "Figures and Food," combines these elements in improbable ways: Apples interact with feet. Hands grab fistfuls of cake.Toes dip inside layers of frosting. Detached parts of the figure layer on top of cakes. Her work is sensual, but also playful. Neider’s work recontextualizes the relationship of the figure and food as one that is not about consumption, but about interaction.
Carolin's series of charcoal drawings, "Best Self/ Worst Self," imagines two opposing versions of Carolin's self, acting out her best intentions and most base impulses, leaving it to the viewer to decide which self is "best," and which is "worst."