Ghada Amer was born in Cairo in 1963; she now lives and works in New York. Viewing Amer's hand-embroidered paintings, with their delicate traceries of stray threads, involves a visual shift, as what appears to be a mass of abstract lines gradually comes into focus as highly erotic figures, displayed in a repetitive pattern. The work refuses to bow to the puritanical elements of both Western and Islamic culture, and what could be called "institutionalized feminism," with its own persistent myth of feminine virtue.
Curator Valerie Cassel, part of the six-person team to select Ms. Amer for the Whitney Biennial 2000, says in a recent New York Times review of Amer's work that Amer subdues and overpowers the male-dominated language of Abstract Expression by sewing on top of it. Amer's embroidery of nude female images taken from pornographic magazines has a similar overpowering effect. According to Cassel:
When we see those images in her paintings, we feel as if we've accidentally walked into a woman's boudoir, where she's pleasuring herself, rather than looking at something primarily designed and distributed for a male eye.
Amer's work has been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions at such venues as Deitch Projects, New York; the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; the 2000 Whitney Biennial, New York; P.S. 1, New York; the 2000 Kwangju Biennial, South Korea; SITE Sante Fe, NM; the 1999 Venice Biennale; the 1997 Johannesburg Biennale; and Gagosian Gallery, London. 2004 marked her first solo exhibition in Los Angeles when her show opened at Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills.
site-specific installation for the Adobe Bookshop window
includes a series of mixed media sculptures. Each sculpture
is constructed out of an embroidery hoop with the residue
of a cosmetic facial peel stretched over it. Then, epidermal
structures and inhabitants were drawn on the peel in
blood. Glands, ducts, and mites populate the embroidery
hoops. Patch-like sewing was done on the sculptures
with scraps of facial peel and thread. The imprint of
skin is visible on the peel's surface.
Laura Splan is a Brooklyn-based
mixed media artist. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Art
from the University of California, Irvine where she
originally studied Biological Sciences. She received
her Master of Fine Art in Sculpture from Mills College
in Oakland, CA where she completed independent study
in the Microbiology Department.
Her interest in science and medicine stems from a
variety of experiences and interests and is influenced
by cultural trends and events. Both her father and
sister have worked for a company that manufactures
surgical and medical products such as implants. This
nurtured her interest in medicine and gave her access
to images and information she might otherwise not
have had. Health epidemics, bio-terrorism, reality
makeover shows, cloned cats, anti-microbial products,
and pharmaceutical commercials all serve as fuel for
inspiration for her work.
work has been exhibited at many West Coast venues
where she previously resided including San Francisco
MOMA Artist's Gallery, San Jose Institute of Contemporary
Art, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Los Angeles
Center For Digital Art, and the Museum of Contemporary
Art in Santa Rosa, CA . She has also shown at Nexus
Gallery (Philadelphia, PA), Delta Axis Gallery (Memphis,
TN), Arthouse (Austin, TX), the Art & Culture Center
Of Hollywood (Hollywood, FL), and Galerie SAW Gallery,
(Ontario, Canada). Her work was featured on the cover
of the Public Library of Science Medicine Journal
and on Spark* on KQED (San Francisco, CA). She has
been a visiting artist and lecturer at California
College of Art, Cal Arts, San Francisco Art Institute,
Stanford University, Mills College, and SF Camerawork.
She was awarded the Herringer Prize for Excellence
in Art, a Kala Art Institute Fellowship, and a Cadogan
Fine Arts Fellowship.