Mutations of Otherness at Woman Made Gallery

Sunday, I had the pleasure of reading with five other woman poets at the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago–I’m so grateful to Nina Corwin and the Gallery for organizing this reading in this amazing space. It was a wonderful experience to listen to and read with these other inspiring poets!

Pre-reading invocation with Nina Corwin (photo courtesy of Richard Rastall)
Pre-reading invocation with Nina Corwin (photo courtesy of Richard Rastall)
Reading from Wolf Skin (photo courtesy of Richard Rastall)
Reading from Wolf Skin (photo courtesy of Richard Rastall)
Poets Erika Sanchez, Janeen Rastall, Vandana Khanna, me, Yunuen Rodriguez, and Renny Golden (photo courtesy of Sandy Marchetti)

I had never been to the Woman Made Gallery before this weekend, but I will definitely make an effort to go back. I was blown away by the permanent collection, as well as the current exhibits, which will remain on display through June 26, 2014.

Upstairs right now is a solo show entitled “potbelly pin-ups: out of many one” by Shoshanna Weinberger (BFA Chicago Institute of Art, ’95; MFA, Yale ’03). A resident of New Jersey and native Jamaican, Weinberger displays here a series of pop surrealist images that interrogate pop culture definitions of beauty by juxtaposing icons traditionally associated with feminine beauty–such as lipstick, high heels, bras, and thongs–with grotesque mutations of the female form. Below is one of my favorite images from the series:

Smoker (2014) by Shoshanna Weinberger

Downstairs in the space where the reading was held is an amazing group show on “Mutations of Otherness,” for which Weinberger served as juror. From Michelle Acuff’s tangle-horned stag that greets you as soon as you walk downstairs:

Surrogate by Michelle Acuff
Surrogate by Michelle Acuff (polystyrene, steel, porcelain, caution tape, lawn ornaments, cones)

to Cheryl Hochberg’s monstrous bird-goat-woman hybrid:

"Bertha's Monster" by Cheryl Hochberg
Bertha’s Monster by Cheryl Hochberg (pastel, painted fabric on paper)

to Lauren Levato Coyne’s wunderkammer or cabinet-of-curiosities images of female bodies (one of which pictures a fox peeking out of a woman’s belly):

Self Portrait as Thief in the Night by Lauren Levato Coyne (graphite and colored pencil on Bristol)

each of these pieces provokes the viewer to reflect on her notions of beauty, femininity, the monstrous, fable, and myth. You don’t want to miss either of these shows if you’ll be in or around Chicago through the 26th!