The Looking Glass: Refraction through the Female Gaze

Feb 9th 2013 to Mar 2nd 2013

Opening Reception: February 9th, 2013 6pm - 10pm

Mirus Gallery is pleased to announce The Looking Glass: Refraction through the Female Gaze, a group exhibition featuring works by Kimberly Brooks, Sandra Chevrier, Naja Conrad-Hansen, Mercedes Helnwein, Alexandra Levasseur, Jen Mann, Sari Maxfield, Alyssa Monks, Jennifer Nehrbass, Casey O’Connell, Claire Pestaille, Rachel Walker, Janelle Wisehart and Christine Wu. The Looking Glass is the third exhibition to be presented by the newly opened Mirus Gallery, and will examine contemporary representations of the female form.  The Looking Glass reinterprets the presentation of women’s bodies through a variety of mediums and practices unified by subject matter and a solely female perspective.



The artists featured in the The Looking Glass challenge the preconceived notion that the female form in art represents a sense of delicacy and untouchable beauty. Creating a new discourse and exploring the woman's role in artistic context, The Looking Glass is a celebration of the female form that ultimately transcends objectification through the artist’s examination or association with their subjects. Rather than using the female body as an agenda to reinforce societal norms or assert dominance, the artists are able to identify with and explore the spectrum of their subject’s humanity, often as an exercise in self-examination and exploration. The works of art featured in this show are a contemporary examination of the psychology of art practice and explore alternative realms in which the female body is represented.



Kimberly Brooks investigates the role of women as both artists and subjects of the gaze. By inverting the artist-model relationship her practice aims to breakdown the traditional role of spectator, allowing her model the agency to look out from the canvas and stare at viewer. In examining contemporary fashion and style, Brooks addresses the role that women themselves play in the perpetuation of certain cultural tropes, and the significance of appearance in depictions of women in art and media.



The work of Rachel Walker borders upon the abstract and the illustrative, presenting the previously marginalized perspectives of female and queer artists. Her works in gouache support an immediacy and honesty in her subject matter, the rapidness required by the medium lends itself to an art practice based upon intuition and chance. The use of feminine cultural figures, fashion and historical imagery assists in her exploration of depictions of race, gender, sexuality and identity.  



Mercedes Helnwein examines the myth of the “normal” through her drawings of women and girls outside of the mass media lexicon.  With an outsider’s attention to the seemingly banal, Helnwein draws out the eccentricities, oddities and cultural mash up she finds thriving in the backwaters of American life. The exactness of emotion allowed by her use of pencil bring to surface some of the inner struggles and temptations masked by her female subject’s need to “be good”. 



Claire Pestaille’s collages challenge a consumer culture that dictates the relentless pursuit of perfection by examining how advertising, Hollywood and other media inform women’s self image.  By focusing on the female form, Pestaille is able to bring awareness to women’s experience outside of standardized art historical portrayals.  In promoting self-acceptance and understanding, she allows her female subjects to be storytellers for themselves, liberated from societal standards and stereotypes.    

Approaching her practice as a dialog between her adolescent self, and the woman she is now, Casey O’Connell paints in acrylic and oil stain as a scrapbook of her life and emotions. Her use of female characters lends itself to greater intimacy and relevance to her personal experience, with imagery meeting somewhere between fantasy and honesty.