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Kelsey Shultis, Kelsey Ann, Oil on linen, 48″ x 36″, 2012

August 14-September 7, 2019
FITWITCH
RECEPTION
Friday, August 16, 5-8 pm

Participating Artists:
Anna van Schaap
Kelsey Shultis
Maria Cantisano
Bana Kabalan
Cristin Richard
Gisela McDaniel

Please join us for the opening reception of the Scarab Club exhibition, Fitwitch. The title Fitwitch is a kitschy modern co-opting of the multi-faceted historical concept of a Witch as a symbol of both feminine power and persecution.  It speaks to the femme artist as alchemist and conjurer in her craft, aesthetisizing female empowerment and oppression in a world where identity and the femme body are still intrinsically linked, and often dehumanized.

Fitwitch features the work of six dominating female artists all dealing with aestheticizing personal stories through ritual, ornamentation, and the role of proxies and the creative process as visual stand-ins for emotional narratives.  The artists in this exhibition confront their identities as both women and human, and the role that plays in their work, with underlying concepts of feminine power, familial and self-created structures of feminine support, an exploration of the body, self-love and loathing, and the ever-present societal backlash against female empowerment. 

Through a mixed-media exhibition that utilizes installation, paintings, sculptures, photographs, alters, wearables, and general iconography, the artists weave in and confront references to a broad spectrum of general and personal oppression within larger institutions.  Their work deals with systems of belief, rituals, religion, family, the natural word, and the femme body.

The exhibition is not just about allowing female artists to openly use their visual languages to talk about their artistic concepts, but it is important for creating a space to allow female artists to use darker imagery, often not associated with, or furthermore discouraged from use by women. Women are taught young to regulate their emotions while simultaneously saddled with the lions-share of the emotional labor in relationships.  Female bodies are often used as vessels for absorbing the violence of others and the violence around them, but are seldom allowed to express darkness themselves. By dissecting the body they also examine the structures that dictate the roles of those bodies in the world. By infusing elements of nature they talk about the overlap between the femme body and naturalistic cycles; a source of strength and power, as well as cyclical, uncontrollable destruction.  By weaving together personal narratives, costuming and ornamentation wears like battle armor. Animals with hollow expressions hang near altars and relics, recalling states of possession created by fixation on past grievances, and historical oppression. Together, these artists create the sensation of resolutely confronting internalized destruction, while simultaneously conjuring the ghosts that haunt them. 

ARTIST STATEMENTS

Anna van Schaap
My work is about finding the visual language to talk about the struggles and experiences of women, the societal structures that limit our progress, and about the subversive ways in which women learn to communicate, because overt communication is not always an option in a society where women are largely ignored, or out-right dismissed. I am interested in the destruction and self-destruction of the female body, and what it means as a female artist to add elements of destruction to my work. Influenced by growing up in the Midwest, and the repressive identity politics associated with the region, my work overlaps surrealist painting with traditional portraiture, while exploring ideas of gender dynamics, destruction of the femme, symbolism, communication (or the inability to communicate), and the psychopathology that arises from being silenced

Kelsey Shultis
Kelsey’s work largely explores the tenuous stability of life. She represents the beings/objects/environments that we hold with such significance and use to define our lives, and their inevitable transitions to disorder and termination. Her works create a dynamic record of permanent transitions. Kelsey has had solo and group exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Princeton, Ann Arbor and Detroit. Her work resides in private and public collections throughout the United States.

Bana Kabalan
I am an interdisciplinary Lebanese-American visual and performative artist. I use my love for my ethereal Eastern culture to create costumes that intertwine with my biophiliac personality. Using mainly materials found in nature and in people’s waste, I create surrealistic bodysuits that I cocoon myself and embody in the form of armor. I recreate elements of animalistic physiology into my installations, box assemblages and costumes to manifest the intersectionality and importance of all life within the animal kingdom. My artwork focuses on metamorphosis and shape-shifting, through the constant shedding of physiological and psychological characteristics that cradle one’s existence. Through the process of removing and reassembling human body parts, one can replace the biological construction with animalistic anatomy. This method of reconstruction is crucial to transcend the limitations faced as human life forms and recognize life through a new way of seeing.

Cristin Richard
Through an interdisciplinary approach, Cristin Richard leads an in depth reflection around the notions of the body and identity. She examines the human condition and the fact that the body is physically and mentally determined in this condition.  In her artistic practice, installation and performance hold an essential place. By exploring the experience of the body in its perceptions and transformations, she develops complex metaphors. With a particular interest in the manipulation of organic matter, her selected palette of materials further help to push that dialog of what it feels like to be human: The human being is like nature. It transforms and regenerates in poetic and unpredictable ways.  Her most recent works take the form of a participatory performance, an experience where the audience unconsciously becomes an active part of the project…

Maria Cantisano
As a variant in my digital art, I have gone a little further than collage (“cut and paste”) to a disfigurement and alternation of “pastes.” Botany, which remains a major element in my works, takes on a somber appearance or rather poetic one. I have no concrete reason as to why I have stopped using the woman’s body and how I am now changing to something abstract, deformed, to a figurative mass before a muted background that I can classify as self-portraits. As I begin to arm my body digitally, I feel as if I am facing each part in a random fashion, trying to capture my expression, my gestures, an identity. There is no longer a pre-selected body at the beginning of my works, but each “collage” begins with a drawn silhouette which I am reliving with flowers or body parts.

 

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