Charis Wilson, model and writer, died on November 20th, aged 95.
"Everything they [Charis Wilson and Edward Weston] did in the 11 burning years they were together was good collaborative work, at least as far as she was concerned. The notion of a muse was nonsense to her, a passive thing. She knew exactly what she was doing"…
Photo: Charis Wilson, 1937 by Edward Weston
We commemorated the 500th anniversary
of the unveiling of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling
Vatican City, Italy
with our series Dialogues with Michelangelo.
Our fellow changing women, Bette Cerf Hill and Anne Ream, are hosting a benefit/auction this Friday, December 11 from 8-11pm, Designing the Perfect Holiday for the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation and the Voices and Faces Project. We are donating a print to benefit both organization’s innovative work. Come to shop and sip champagne and eat chocolates as we support their work to stop sexual violence and exploitation.
Listen to the podcast from the Guerrilla Girls recent visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art.
As Tina Kelley writes in her New York Times article When the Cool Get Hazed:
"Girl-on-girl bullying or hazing is old news by now, for anyone who has seen “Mean Girls” or “Heathers” or “Gossip Girl”… But news of a “slut list” at a top-ranked New Jersey high school highlighted two disturbing points: the increasingly explicit and sexual nature of the taunts, magnified by the Internet. And, in another twist, the perception that allegations of promiscuity — however fictional — are a badge of honor, a way into the cool group, and not a cause for shame.
If it weren’t so insidious in its own right, the kind of childhood bullying that inspired Mattel to add a new American Girl doll this year — Chrissa, who moves to a new school and is immediately targeted by three girls in her class — would almost seem quaint."
Read the full article
"By 50, the average person's hair is about half-gray...Advertisements did whatever they could to promote the notion that aging was unwelcome and gray hair its stigmata.
But take a look at the torrent of images from movies, television, magazines and advertisements that help to shape or create our expectations and views about how people should look. Aside from the Botox, Restylane, nips, tucks and suctioning that Hollywood stars and extras regularly endure, the absence of gray in nearly everyone under 65 reinforces the impression that midlife is supposed to be free of gray."
Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/weekinreview/08cohen.html?_r=1
Patricia Cohen is writing a book about the invention and marketing of middle age.
Take a fresh look at concepts of feminine beauty, wisdom, truth and
Opening reception: Friday, October 10, 5:00-8:00pm
DISCUSSION hosted by De Gray
Artists talk by Barbara Ciurej followed by an informal discussion.
Sunday, December 7, 3:00-5:00pm
DISCUSSION hosted by Sel Yackley with the International Women's Associates
Artist talk by Barbara Ciurej followed by an informal discussion.
Saturday, December 13, 10:00-12:00pm
Printed: 72 pages, 8.26" x 11.69", perfect binding, white interior paper (80# weight), full-color interior ink, white exterior paper (90# weight), full-color exterior ink. Free Download: 1 document, 83374 KB
They participated in Pecha Kacha, presenting their work in a fast-paced 6 minute/20 slides presentation at Martyrs Pub as part of Chicago Artists Month.
See 2008 Featured Artist: Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman
Chicago Artists Month, the thirteenth annual celebration of Chicago’s vibrant visual art community was organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and was made possible through the Presenting Sponsorship of 3Arts and the Lead Sponsorship of the Sara Lee Foundation.
We have always constructed photographic narratives to reconcile our personal experiences, which we sometimes find at odds with society’s mythology. We imagine and tell another story ("backstories" is what we called them, but they are fictions as well). We try to tell a better story: of the life we want to aspire to, stories that ring true for us and in turn for others. We are optimists and attempt to present a noble way to look at our circumstances. In this way we work to resolve the mixed messages we get from the prevailing culture.
In our most recent body of work: All Things Are Always Changing (excerpts from this will be shown in October at Bette Cerf Hill Gallery for Chicago Artists Month), we confront the fact that middle age is invisible in our culture. At best, it is viewed as a battle to maintain youth. Growing old is considered a defect. As we change in midlife, we lose our "place" in the world and we must find or invent another one. Through our artwork we look for an option that isn't characterized by all that is sexualized and youthful. We know we can do better than “looking good for her age” because we have seen the power inherent in ourselves.
Wisdom, gained by years is venerated, but what does it look like? We address this mind/body disconnect by reworking influences from art history, photographic history, fairy tales, myths and popular culture to create a parallel history. As Iris Murdoch said, "...one surrenders power in one form, and grasps it in another." Our photographs create a new timeline--one where the power in the process is revealed.
We take this approach in all our work -- from depicting domesticity to traveling through the landscape. We are looking for the nobility in our daily lives. We invite you to our website to view our other “backstories.”
For us, collaborating is a conversation. Whether taking the form of argument, agreement, or cry of outrage, our projects always start with a lot of talking. These discussions began when we were students at the Institute of Design in 1978 and this process has informed our photographic narratives ever since.
Initially, we joined ranks to make images that challenged the world around us. Most recently, we have tapped into the spirit of collaborative community during our Ragdale Foundation residencies in Lake Forest, here we received support, shared inspiration and even offers to pose from the other residents. By appearing in many of our own photographs, we took advantage of the artist/model collaboration -- working together to realize a shared vision.
Early in our careers we joined Artemisia Gallery, a women's cooperative, where we came to appreciate the broadest parameters of communal artmaking. We came together with a shared aesthetic and an interest in photography's storytelling potential, but collaboration required that we learn to listen to each other, to take criticism, and sometimes, to let go of an individual vision. Our “work flow” is a negotiated team effort, always moving toward and subservient to “the truth” in the images which tell our stories.
Culture is really a communal storytelling process. It is fluid and mutable. Who is telling the stories? Why? Is a story true for any time and in any place in the world? Through the years we have expanded our view of collaboration as a conversation. We study history, art history and mythology, taking great pains to weave our own emotions and thoughts into a familiar vision shared with our audience. Not only do we converse with each other, we converse with the past and invite a dialogue with the future.
Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman both attended the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where Ciurej received a BS in Visual Design, and Lochman received an MS in Visual Design in 1978. Both had early affiliations with Artemisia Gallery in Chicago from 1979-84, where their work was included in many exhibitions. They have consistently shown their collaborative work at galleries and venues such as the the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Chicago Cultural Center and the Art Institute of Chicago,amonst others. Ciurej lives and works in Chicago and Lochman lives and works in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. They recently published a monograph of their work "All Things Are Always Changing" available at lulu.com.
Civic leaders, Sunny Fischer, founding executive director of one of the first private women's foundtions in the country and current executive director of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and Isabel Stewart, former executive director of the Chicago Foundation for Women, led a discussion on how women's philanthropy has changed the landscape for women's issues and how the power of using their money has changed women. Stewart reminded us that the role of women within their families is that of a philanthropist, working for the good of others.
To find out more about Chicago Foundation for Women, go to www.cfw.org
A lecture by and discussion with Anne K. Ream
Saturday, October 11, 2008 1:00pm
Writer Anne K. Ream explored how marketing, media and the 15 billion dollar beauty industry have created a "new normal" that has troubling implications. "Desperately seeking the female ideal" was published in the Chicago Tribune and appears below.
Tweens and teens are trying to look older. Women are trying to look younger.
All the self-modifying leaves little time for learning or doing.
by Anne K. Ream
November 16, 2008
I’m sorry to take you back there. I know this is awkward for all of us but think about it for a moment. You might have been many things at 12: bucktoothed, regrettably sporting a bowl cut or, in my case, plagued by a gap-toothed smile.
What you probably weren’t was professionally improved upon. But an unfortunate school photo is, according to trend watchers, fast becoming a remnant of another time.
A plethora of photo agencies and Web sites now offer retouching services that wipe out pesky adolescent imperfections, making for a more gorgeous (and grown-up) school picture. One such site offers a “Total Makeover Age Progression,” a retouching package for young girls that includes new hair, skin, makeup, eyebrows, facial expressions and even arm reshaping.
Tween and teen girls are the new grown-ups, participating in our image-conscious culture in unprecedented ways.
Spas and salons report increased demands for facials, full makeovers and bikini waxes for girls who have yet to reach puberty.
Abercrombie & Fitch has marketed thong underwear with slogans such as “wink wink” and “eye candy” to girls age 7 to 14. Gary Rudman, author of gTrend Report, a nationwide study on tweens and teens, says “There isn’t a real teen on television. Dramas such as ‘Smallville,’ ‘The O.C.,’ ‘One Tree Hill’ and ‘Laguna Beach’ feature teens whose vocabulary, complexion, fashion sense, wisecracking and comedy skills well-exceed their supposed years. This places a great deal of social pressure on ordinary teens to act with life experiences they don’t possess.
“The combined efforts of magazines, television programs, MTV and models in teen stores have fabricated an image of what teens should be and look like,” Rudman said. The only problem is, it’s impossible for real teens to live up to the [media-hyped] expectation.”
The sexualization and “adultification” of girls is a troubling enough trend. But it’s bookended with an equally disturbing phenomenon: the extreme “youthification” of older women.
Thanks to Pilates, supplements, salmon-only diets, $500 face creams and a breathtaking array of surgical and dermatological fixes, 50 is the new 30. Or 20. Or something like that.
It seems almost quaint to remember the days when “Does she or doesn’t she?” referred to hair color. Today it’s not so much about what women put on (makeup, hair color, shape-shifting lingerie)—but what we put in—collagen, Botox and an entire arsenal of injectables.
The joke in Hollywood just over a decade ago was that there were three ages for actresses: Babe, District Attorney and Driving Miss Daisy. Well, they’re all Babes now. A recent issue of Glamour, with the headline “Sexy and Happy at 20, 30 and 40,” features a photo of three A-list actresses who, despite a 20-year age span, look to be roughly the same age.
The popularity, in recent years, of child-inspired clothing for women—including schoolgirl dresses and over-the-knee socks—manages to be creepy and, in its faux nostalgia, more than a little bit sad.
The nationally televised 2005 “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” that featured supermodels dressed in baby-doll teddies, pulling stuffed animals and surrounded by toys, made clear that the trend of dressing women as girls had gone mainstream. The current Neiman Marcus catalog, which sells $1,200 diamond “Hello Kitty” watches to women, shows that the trend has gone upscale. Am I alone in thinking “Hello Kitty” and “diamonds” really don’t go together?
In a new variation of an age-old formula, teen television programming has come to dominate the adult market, with shows like the high-school drama “Gossip Girl” attracting adult viewers in record numbers.
Disney star Miley Cyrus captured the muddled-up cultural moment we find ourselves in perfectly when she recently told Vanity Fair that “Sex in the City” is her favorite TV show. A 15-year-old-going-on-20 follows the TV adventures of a group of 30-something women who look like they are not much over 20. In a crazy way, it makes perfect sense.
The adultification of young girls—and the youthification of older women—points to a troubling cultural fixation on an age and beauty “sweet spot,” that elusive place and space when women are, at last, “just right.”
The American Psychological Association has a name for this—“age compression,” which is defined as “a phenomenon in which girls are adultified and women are youthified.” According to the APA, age compression affects younger and older women in largely the same ways, impacting cognitive functioning and body image, increasing the probability of eating orders and depression and creating a restless and relentless need in some women to alter who they are.
The realization—or rather, the belief—that at so many points in our lives the world wants us to be different—older and sexier, or younger and fresher—comes at a social cost. Girls and then women become so busy self-modifying or improving that little time is left over for learning or doing. We have the power to change the world, but it’s too often subjugated to the culturally constructed need to change ourselves.
Some say that it has been ever thus. And certainly, a focus on physical appearance is not new: More than three decades ago researchers argued that physical beauty can translate into power for girls and women. But our definition of beauty shifts according to contemporary cultural values, and there is strong evidence that physical appearance was not always the prime currency it seems to have become today for a girl’s social success.
In her groundbreaking book, “The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls,” Cornell University researcher Joan Jacobs Brumberg examined the diaries of adolescent girls in the U.S. over the past 100 years to better understand how they discussed self-improvement. While girls of earlier eras focused on improving their studies and becoming better-mannered, the diary entries of contemporary young women showed an almost exclusive emphasis on improved or changed physical appearance.
Feminist firebrand Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in her renowned work, “Our Girls,” once wrote, “I would have girls regard themselves not as adjectives but as nouns.” It’s a hopeful sentiment that feels, right now, more nostalgic than ever before.
Anne K. Ream is a Chicago-based writer and the founder of The Voices and Faces Project, a national documentary initiative created to bring the testimony of sexual violence survivors to the attention of the public. A longstanding advocate for women’s issues, Ms. Ream is also co-founder and Chief Creative Officer for Girl360.net, an empowerment project for tween girls, and a founding co-chair, with attorneys Susan Vickers and Susan Estrich, of CounterQuo.org: a national initiative that challenges the way we respond to sexual violence. She is a former Senior Vice President and Group Creative Director at Leo Burnett USA, one of the country's largest communications agencies.
Ciurej and Lochman offered 15 minute “mini portrait” sessions in the style of the immortals. Each participant was given a small print to insure their place in history. It was a wonderful afternoon filled with noble poses and great stories. These were some selections from the event.
Proceeds were donated to the Voices and Faces Project.
To inquire about portrait commissions, contact Barbara Ciurej at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, October 11, 2008 9:00am-12:00pm and Sunday, October 12, 2008 2:00-5:00pm
Nicole Hollander, nationally syndicated creator of the Sylvia cartoons and author of several books including Tales of Graceful Aging From the Planet Denial conducted a memoir workshop among her cartoon strips on display. Participants explored past lives…not the kind where you turn out to be the Queen of Sheba or Louis Sullivan, but the kind where you talk about memories elicited by photographs, clothing, favorite foods or bad meals and then wrote and discussed and marveled and laughed.
For more information about Nicole Hollander or her memoir workshops, visit www.nicolehollander.com
Her book is carried at Women & Children First in Chicago and many other bookstores.
On view from October 10, 2008 until January 17, 2009.
The show is available to travel. Contact Bette Cerf Hill Gallery at 312.550.6483 for further information.