Female Trouble: Amanda Joy Calobrisi, Lilli Carré, Qinza Najm, Kathryn Refi, Frances Waite

Friday, Jan 10 – Feb 22, 2020

1709 W. Chicago Ave
2nd. Floor
Chicago, IL 60622

For Female Trouble, co-organizers Elijah Wheat Showroom and Western Exhibitions bring together five female artists who take modes and patterns of female representation into their own hands, uncovering and expounding the delights of their corporeal forms and fearlessly expressing body positive broadcasts of nudes in image, form, and craft. The she-power of this show is about risk, exploration and eminent bodily domains. The show will open at Western Exhibitions in Chicago with a public reception on Friday, January 10 from 5 to 8pm and will run through February 22, 2020.

Victorian-age physicians were tasked with the revival of repressed vaginas, performing remedial pelvic massages until their patient’s female hysteria was tamed, devoting considerable time and energy to whacking women off. Thanks to their caregiver’s elbow grease, women were returned to their designated mates subdued, and under control. Doctors eventually grew tired of the immense effort required to cure hysteria and struggled to find less arduous remedies, leading one exhausted professional to invent the vibrator. This prescribed tool relieved physicians of their palliative duties. Female hysteria was reclaimed, its intended cure eventually transformed and recognized as a source of pleasure, fulfillment and self-celebration. Following in these women’s footsteps, Female Trouble brings attention to feminine figurative work that indulges and divulges into this reclaimed feminine sexuality with pride.

Amanda Joy Calobrisi tells strange and sensuous tales of womanhood. The figures that inhabit her canvases ponder the theatrics of sex—and death—in worlds less dangerous and more revealing than our own. Rendered affectionately rather than objectively, the women fold, bend, lean, and stretch in painted spaces that hover between boudoir and landscape. Individualism and agency mold their realm where self-love and self-admiration are no longer private revolutions. ­­­

Lilli Carré’s work exudes sensuality in earthenware sculptures, formed with poise but tantalizing and forbidden to handle. Inspired by ancient erotic pottery and representations of the malleable animated female body, Carré is interested in narrative vessel forms and how they reflect the desires and behaviours of the cultures that used them. Clay is molded to a presence that at first seems innocuous, but suddenly turns to the bystander and assembles protruding—almost familiar—parts, potentially pornographic in mission.

Qinza Najm’s tapestries are over-woven with titillating and discrete imagery of female bodies stretching to their limits as they distort themselves to wrestle with their confinement. The tightly woven textiles that restrain these women become the sheets to the comfort for a horizontal body. Najm distorts her figures’ encased bodies, perspectivally extending them past the ornamented extremities of her rugs, as “an extended body claims space beyond its expected role.”

Standing stoic, Kathryn Refi’s protean portraits push the malleability of perceived truth to its limits. By wickedly weaving her full-frontal nudes into disjointed photographic semi-representations, Refi summons grid-adhering versions of herself. Unmoving and commanding attention with a wild natural muff of mojo, Refi’s photo montages are wrapped in a balance of symmetry and affixed to space, rebellious in presence.

Frances Waite renders horny apocalyptic meltdowns in her photorealistic graphite drawings. In these tableaus she asks questions about ultimate desire: When the end of the world hits, what will you do? Will you go underground and hide? Will you grab your lover and hold them tight? Will you dance like nothing is out of the ordinary? Will you spread love? If the outside is crumbling, are you, too? In Waite’s world, humans have no other choice than to ‘do it.’ In her drawings Waite reaches a climax: Spread big love.

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Elijah Wheat Showroom is a Brooklyn-based artist-run space and nomadic curatorial experience founded by Carolina Wheat & Liz Nielsen. The gallery is named after their late son, Elijah, whose creative insight, righteous vision, perceptive being and stylistic voice for trendsetting guides the spirit that the Showroom honors. EWS artists are socially conscientious, politically engaged and reflective of a creative community striving to cultivate interactions and instigate critical conversations to promote visual art’s discursive messages while promoting its accessibility.

Western Exhibitions is a Chicago-based contemporary art gallery that shows thought-provoking, and visually innovative artists who work across most media, with an emphasis on personal narratives and cosmologies; LGBTQ artists and issues; pattern, decoration and surface concerns; works on paper; and artist books. Western Exhibitions presents unique artist projects, curated group shows and maintains a specific inventory of artist books and multiples, gathered together as a sister entity, WesternXeditions.