The Ann Street Gallery is delighted to present its newest exhibition Gendered Object: Barbie as Art, with an Artist Reception on Saturday, May 19 from 6 – 9 pm. This event is free and the public is cordially invited to attend.
It seems the entire world knows who Barbie is, and in Gendered Object: Barbie as Art, a group of contemporary artists embrace this plastic beauty, whose iconic pop culture image exerts a powerful influence on artistic and visual culture alike. Mass-produced objects like dolls can tell us much about the creation and significance of self-image in the context of group identities. Since the 1960’s and the advent of the “consumer society” playing with gender identity through styling and fashion has moved from the margins to occupy a more mainstream position. This has since been expressed in popular culture through an interest in androgyny, breaking conventional gender dress codes, gender bending and body reconstruction.
The artists in Gendered Object: Barbie as Art, address these issues within the environment of a visually diverse, mixed media exhibition which features the potent pop culture icon: Barbie, a merchandising phenomenon. The exhibition examines artists’ work that reconstructs and re-presents Barbie in a variety of ways that make an impact on our visual culture within the contexts of feminism, gay culture, gender issues, and the use of a commercial symbol and product for purposes of artistic expression. Here, Barbie the contradiction of a gendered object, is showcased in works of art that include paintings, silkscreen, photography, drawings, sculpture and video.
Originally, the Barbie doll was based on a German postwar pin-up named Lilli, created by Greiner & Hauser and designed as a pornographic caricature sold to adult men in tobacco shops. Later, when introduced to the American public, she became destined for young girls, not men. Barbie’s inception into the American market has elicited its fair share of mixed feelings about her image and ability to be a positive role model for young women. With her blonde hair, large breasts, tiny waist, and long legs, Barbie’s proportions have become cliché for an idealized and (anatomically incorrect) physically unattainable female body. She has been seen as the ultimate male fantasy, the embodiment of the American feminine ideal, and as a sex object icon feminists love to hate. Barbie has also provided an unprecedented example for female independence. She has been marketed as career oriented, unmarried, childless, and in a sense, an advocate and role model for the contemporary modern woman; single, financially independent, educated, sophisticated, socially adept and a world traveler.
While many of the works in Gendered Object: Barbie as Art offer more diversity and alternate messages that accurately reflects society and the roles women play, they also explore the powerful hold Barbie has over the artists’ own psyche. This hold is investigated in the framework of the artists’ own personal relationship with the plastic female, using Barbie as an inspiring source of material within the context of fantasy settings and unlimited imagination. Not dissimilar to Barbie’s “Dream World” itself.
The exhibition is on view through Saturday, June 30, 2012. The exhibition was curated by Virginia Walsh, Director of the Ann Street Gallery.
The Ann Street Gallery is a nonprofit art gallery specializing in contemporary emerging and established artists. The gallery is located at 104 Ann Street in Newburgh, and viewing hours are Wednesday and Thursday 9:00 am-5:00 pm (closed for lunch 1:30-2:30 pm) and Friday and Saturday 11:00 am-5:00 pm.
For more information regarding Gendered Object: Barbie as Art and the Ann Street Gallery, contact Virginia Walsh, Director at (845) 784-1146 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.annstreetgallery.org.
Fantasy #1 Again and Again, Oil on Canvas