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‘Domestic Structures’ Expand Within ATHICA

ATHICA: Nearly 50 years ago, Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, co-founders of the CalArts Feminist Art Program, launched “Womanhouse,” an immersive installation that transformed an abandoned Victorian mansion in Hollywood into an environment for fantastical homemaking. After extensively renovating the 17-room home, the 30 or so contributing artists constructed unique spaces such as the “Lipstick Bathroom” painted entirely in bright red, the fairly self-explanatory “Crocheted Womb Room” and “The Nursery,” full of oversized furniture and toys to create the illusion of being young and small. The inarguably difficult endeavor sought to elevate the profiles of women artists while confronting what is still, in many ways, a male-dominated arena.

“Womanhouse” served as an inspirational launching point for Candice Greathouse, the guest curator behind the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art’s latest exhibition, “Domestic Structures.” While huge strides in equality have been made since the ’70s, the home is often advertised as a woman’s domain. While not nearly as overtly provocative as its predecessor, the show challenges viewers to consider the extent to which dynamics within the home continue to reflect larger social and political structures. In the presence of gendered objects and roles, the viewer is asked to consider how they influence the everyday experiences of women, and for what greater cultural purpose.

Each of the participating women in “Domestic Structures” offers artwork that contemplates contemporary ideas surrounding domesticity and familial narratives. Objects commonly viewed as feminine, nostalgic or sentimental are represented through installation, sculpture and photography in order to reexamine their gendered labels. As a whole, the exhibition aims to construct a modernized framework for “making a home” as a new site of potential, action and growth.

A recurring motif in Atlanta-based artist InKyoung Chun’s body of work is the house, typically appearing in its most simple, symmetrical shape: a rectangular shelter with a gable roof. In the past, this house has taken form as delicately rendered watercolor paintings, as well as three-dimensional plexiglass models. Here, Chun presents the illuminated “Blue Gate,” a sleek, neon pentagonal arch. Jessica Machacek, who received an MFA from UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art in 2015, often creates installations that incorporate building materials such as wood lattice, window blinds, latex house paint and, in this case, the patterned, bright blue sheets of pool vinyl. Photographer Brittainy Lauback, a 2014 MFA grad, positions objects into slightly peculiar arrangements that allow viewers to project their own narratives. The exhibition also includes contributions from Atlanta-based artists Meta Gary, Elizabeth Lide and Christina Price Washington, as well as Lauren O’Connor-Korb, a sculptor currently pursuing her MFA at UGA.

ATHICA will host an opening reception on Saturday, May 6 from 6–9 p.m. and an artist and curator talk Sunday, May 7 at 1 p.m. “Domestic Structures” will remain on view through Saturday, June 3.

AROUND TOWN: Several other gallery spaces will host receptions to usher in their new exhibitions this week. The Gallery@Hotel Indigo will host an opening for “Rock Paper Scissors” on Tuesday, May 2 from 6:30–8:30 p.m. Exploring the many ways paper can be creatively cut, dyed and folded into new forms, the show offers work by Kendal Nevada King, Elizabeth Lide, Leisa Rich, Lucha Rodriguez, Malissa Ryder and Blaire Janine Taylor.

Four exhibitions will open Friday, May 5, luckily with a large-enough window of time to make it to all locations if you’re feeling ambitious. You should begin by swinging by Donderos’ Kitchen between 3:30–5:30 p.m. for a display of works by participants of K.A. Artist Shop’s Art Club. Then, skip over to Heirloom Café from 5:30–6:30 p.m. to see an array of oil and pastel landscapes by Greg Benson. Afterwards, jump over to the Winterville Cultural Arts Center from 5:30–7:30 p.m. for a marigold-themed exhibition, presented by the Winterville Arts Council in celebration of this month’s Winterville Marigold Festival. While outside of Athens, end the evening at the Farmington Depot Gallery from 6–9 p.m. with a new collection of photographs exploring the natural world by Wendy Garfinkel-Gold.

Though not an exhibition per se, Southern Star Studio will offer a sale of pieces by resident potters Maria Dondero, Lori Demosthenes, Chona Leathers, Allya MacDonald Maerz, Regina Mandell and Kerry Steinberg. Friday from 5–9 p.m. includes sangria and Mexican food by Tim Dondero, and the sale will continue on Saturday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. In addition to “Domestic Structures” at ATHICA, Saturday, May 6 is the opening day of “The Past is Never Dead: Kristin Casaletto” at the Georgia Museum of Art. Stop by from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. to view a collection of prints touching on themes of history, identity and race by the contemporary Georgia-based artist.

Last but certainly not least, the Oconee County Library will host a reception on Sunday, May 7 at 3 p.m. for Susan Pelham, who creates mesmerizing collages influenced by surrealism, magic realism, nursery rhymes and fables.  

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