Biblical feminism, vivid paintings presented by senior art majors

From biblical superwomen to sharing stories of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, seniors’ artworks engage the mind and seduce the senses.

In preparation for graduation, the seniors in Rollins’ Studio Art major have their artwork on display at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum (CFAM).

Many Biblical women are depicted as submissive victims of a brutally misogynistic era; the paintings of Emily Richards ‘18 breathe life into those women who stood up to their abusers.

Paintings done by Emily Richards ’18 explore biblical feminism. Photo by Diego Medrano

Richards’ work gives form to biblical figures like Judith, who not only resisted violence and misogyny but killed the men who attempted to abuse her.

This female empowerment, which Richards learned about through her studies in art history, is what drew the artist to these women. Despite the thousands of years that separate them, Richards relates to the women as a woman empowered.

Richards’ aim was to make these biblical characters relevant to us today. “I wanted to make these characters real modern women,” she said.

The style of Richards’ art echoes the Renaissance tradition of depicting famous biblical figures. However, she does so in kitsch, a style of art that is often considered low-brow—the opposite of high art. Kitsch, for example, is often used in advertising.

“Having my work on a museum wall when people call the style low-brow makes me proud,” Richards said.

While Richards looked back thousands of years to find her subjects, Mallory Griffith ‘18 found hers in her own close circle.

Griffith photographs her subjects, often her loved ones, and then painstakingly replicates the photograph by painting it in dazzling colors.

“What I love most is that [the work] involved the people close to me who I shared wonderful moments with,” said Griffith.

Painting done by Mallory Griffith ’18. Photo by Diego Medrano

Griffith explained that her art encourages a playful attitude towards everyday life, one that she embodies herself. The vivid colors she uses help put a positive spin on things.

Griffith’s work and cheer will be here to stay, as Rollins has opted to purchase one of her works. The painting will be displayed on the central staircase of Olin Library. Griffith hoped it will inspire people to think positively and have good energy while going up and down the stairs.

Tara Gallagher ‘18 is another artist who chose to work close to home; although, her work does not deal with people but with the objects in her life.

Gallagher photographed several objects she uses on a daily basis and placed them so they appear to be happened-upon. She explained that getting that happened-upon appearance was not easy, sometimes requiring up to 30 different shots.

Her photographs are minimally edited to appear natural; then, they are placed next to quotes from a book discussing similar subject matter.

Over the course of the semester, she worked with two to three objects a week. The photography was done using slow exposure, a technique effective in capturing movement and tiny disturbances in the environment.

Gallagher, who uses art to process things in life, wanted to make her work personal; she hoped it would reveal a lot about herself without losing subtlety or relatability. By having her artwork displayed in CFAM, she is also able to share her thoughts with us.

Sharing, and sharing stories in particular, is also one of the central themes in the work of Brianne Lint ‘18.

Lint captures her subjects both visually and with audio as they recount their experiences as

Video project by Brianne Lint ’18 shares stories of the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

women on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. The photographs depict them in various frames throughout their stories, and the audio plays clips of their stories that best exemplify their experiences.

The artist also wanted relatability to play a part in her work. She compared it to a more personal take on the stories often presented in big media.

“I love seeing it all come together and give the representation the subjects meant to give,” Lint said.

Capturing the truth as she received it was also a concern of hers. To that end, she chose several different women to depict a wider variety of stories. While allowing for a variety of stories, Lint kept things focused enough so that stories do not become snippets, which are more easily forgotten.

Rollins’ Studio Art seniors have put together a truly impressive exhibition that every student would benefit from enjoying and experiencing. The exhibition is called ə’fem(ə’)ral and can be viewed at  the Cornell Fine Arts Museum through May 12.

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