Threesquared

Subversively Spooky at Threesquared

Sara Estes of Threesquared is fast becoming my favorite Nashville curator, due in part to her eye for subversive work by women who have not exhausted topics like sexual representation, domesticity, and power dynamics. Last night, a solo show by Jessica Wohl opened in the Chestnut Square gallery, a lineup of collages that are equal parts seductive and sinister. Wohl calls them her “army,” and they’re presented as just that: a line of infantrymen–or women–or just limbs…you decide.

Jessica Wohl. The Rattler, 2014. Collage, 12 by 14 inches.

Jessica Wohl. The Rattler, 2014. Collage, 12 by 14 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Snip or Stab? Collage, 9 by 11 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Snip or Stab? Collage, 9 by 11 inches.

Wohl’s work is spooky-good. These collages join fingers and legs with products of domesticity, like afghans, teaspoons, chairs, and pearls, and most creations have a weapon: a butcher knife, a pair of pliers, a serving fork. The figures that result are both docile and threatening, an intense amalgamation of sexualized magazine ads (polished fingernails, stiletto heels, sculpted legs) and symbols of housewifery (measuring cups, throw pillows, dish towels).  The name of the series, Matriarchs, endows Wohl’s tribe with power, exploiting the illusory “norm” found in beauty and homemaking magazines. It’s clear that Wohl delights in our discomfort, and that’s just the beginning.

Jessica Wohl's Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Jessica Wohl’s Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Jessica Wohl's Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Jessica Wohl’s Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Although these weren’t in the Matriarchs lineup, her Sewn Drawings are remarkable. Wohl takes found photographs–portraits, especially Olan Mills-style family ones–and sews right into them, obscuring features, faces, or in some cases, everything but an open mouth or pair of eyes. Estes discovered Wohl’s work because her former roommate, writer Veronica Kavass, owned one of these. If I’m getting the story right, Estes was spooked by it at first, but slowly fell in love with the piece. Can you blame her?

Jessica Wohl. The White Family, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 10 inches.

Jessica Wohl. The White Family, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 10 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Masked, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 11 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Masked, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 11 inches.

The future of Chestnut Square always seems in flux, perhaps more than ever right now. Whatever becomes of the old hosiery mill, I hope Estes will continue to bring richly subversive work to Nashville. Catch the show at this Saturday’s art crawl.

Art Review: Melissa Wilkinson at Threesquared

Check out a review I wrote about Melissa Wilkinson’s La Petite Mort, which is showing at Threesquared through October 4. Then, go get dazzled by her smart, gorgeous glitch watercolors. Here’s a teaser about her process:

“Wilkinson’s process is something to geek out over. A true appropriation artist, she pulls images from search engines and builds a narrative from them. La Petite Mort used everything from St. Teresa to Michelangelo to pornography. She reverses the image and data-bends its file by altering the raw code. Combining it with the code from other files, she produces images that overlap and grow into each other. Then, she uses bright watercolors to add strokes of realism. She includes sensual, tactile objects like feathers, satin and tentacles and renders pieces of them precisely, thus combining her classical training with her predilection for new media.”Melissa Wilkinson_Saint Sebastian

Artist Reconstructs Art History at Threesquared: Melissa Wilkinson

Threesquared hosts an opening reception for “Le Petite Mort,” a show that the artist Melissa Wilkinson promises will “irritate and seduce.” The Arkansas-based artist says in her statement, “I choose to dismantle epic narratives from the past to create a schizophrenic perspective.” Painting in watercolor, she deconstructs traditional subjects to “dismantle the elitism with which they are often associated,” and produces a meditation on gender, the body, and the male gaze.

Liquid Venus by

Liquid Venus by Melissa Wilkinson

From the gallery:

Threesquared is excited to present recent works from Melissa Wilkinson, Assistant Professor of Art at Arkansas State University. In this new series of watercolor paintings, Wilkinson confronts the image of the body, and exposes its inherent contradiction as a passive object of desire in both traditional representation and contemporary painting. These works incorporate appropriated imagery from art history, subjects suggestive of consumption and wealth, and are deconstructed to recontextualize and agitate. Here, Wilkinson seeks to create a new narrative using an old.

Coiffure

Coiffure by Melissa Wilkinson

Threesquared is located in the Chestnut Square building at 427 Chestnut Street. Opening reception Thursday, September 25, 6-9 p.m. The show will stay up for Arts and Music at Wedgewood-Houston on October 4.