The Alter Piece
Thread/Bare (Group Exhibition)
Throughout Western Art History, art has been used as propaganda for patriarchal systems, both religious and political. This altarpiece functions as a rebellious counter to those pieces which have been worshipped for centuries. Using both the Ghent Altarpiece and Durer’s Four Apostles as reference, I am playfully manipulating the allegory of classical works.
An anonymous female (not lovingly engaging with her nursing child) poses in the place of God. She is any woman, challenging the viewer to respect her. She is enveloped in the vermillion of Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece. She is without halo, but sparkling with a divine aura. She proves each woman is divine, strong, empowered without an outside power. She claims her empowerment herself.
Flanking anonymous woman, are two panels directly referencing Albrecht Durer’s four apostles. Durer famously painted his four apostles to convince his audience to join him in the reformation. His symbols were meant to help the layperson to connect directly with God themselves, through scripture. You held the key to your own salvation-a church figure did not have to intervene to make it so. Suchitra Mattai, Sheila Hicks, Louise Bourgeois, and Xenobia Bailey take their place. The rough, raw graphite treatment of these figures acts as the antithesis of Renaissance rendering.
These women should be recognized for their grand achievements but they are also symbolically reminding the audience that your divinity, your empowerment, is within you, you can access it without the assistance of a patriarchal approval. The ultramarine and emerald hues are direct references to Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece and classic Renaissance pigment symbolism. The presentation of these works in the space is meant to remove the hierarchy and inaccessibility of the work. The work should feel as if you can be equal to it, that you can reach out and touch it. The work should allow you to access your greatness.