On Feb. 6, Meredith held an artist panel and reception for the new Flora [Fem] Fauna exhibition that runs through Feb. 25. During the panel discussion, the four artists that came together for the show, Stacey Bloom Rexrode, Holly Fischer, Kiki Farish, and Jenny Eggleston, discussed their work and inspiration.
The artists all have a common theme in their work of celebrating femininity and challenging gender stereotypes. Their goal is to bring an awareness to the false perceptions of the female form and empower women through body positivity and education. Many of them use the metaphor of nature and fertility symbols throughout their work. These women are great examples of being activists through their art, furthering the 2019-2020 theme of “Activism” in the School of Arts and Humanities.
The first question that was prompted in the discussion was about how the artists came together and named their exhibition. The group came together through their mutual friend, Holly Fischer. The artists have a similar dialogue in their various art forms, and decided to do a show together. The title of the exhibition was Rexrode’s idea. She combined Latin words that had a connection to the goddess of flower and fertility and [Fem] in the middle to connect the femininity and feminism in their work.
The women have many parallels in the reasoning behind their work and the interpretations of their ideas. Rexrode and Fischer tend to work more thematically, whereas Farish and Eggleston have more literal interpretations of their ideas, including biblical references, and text in their work. Fischer and Farish use more muted hues in their work while Rexrode and Eggleston experiment with more vibrant colors.
Each of these powerful female artists did not necessarily set out planning to use their work as a platform for feminism, but that is where their art has led them. Kiki Farish hopes to question hierarchy, awaken the feminine spirit, create more positive and comfortable conversation surrounding the female body and discuss what makes it unique. In the future, she hopes to use her art for more educational purposes, possibly incorporating children’s crafts.
Jenny Eggleston uses fertility symbols in her work such as flowers and figs due to their flowers being hidden within. She has also been recently inspired by the idea that victims of sexual violence are forever trapped in guilt. After the inspiration she has received from the other women during this show, Eggleston would like to suspend her work and try out other mediums.
Stacey Rexrode has always seen herself as a feminist and enjoys using irony and humor to connect her art to activism. She includes eco-feminism in her work, causing the viewer to look beneath the initial exterior beauty. Rexrode also makes the connection between women and nature once being revered and now being seen as objects to use and discard. She would like to continue collaborating with other female artists to help foster a sense of community.
Holly Fischer’s goal is to strive for equality and show that feminism is not limited to women. Fischer’s work is inspired by topics like body image. Her current underlying theme is “feminine bites back,” inspired by carnivorous plants and goddesses. During this process she has seen each of the artists be elevated and become stronger together.
If you want to be empowered by femininity and feminism, then the exhibition by these four strong women is a must-see. It remains open through Feb. 25 in the Weems Art Gallery inside Gaddy-Hamrick.
By Emily Ward, Contributing Writer