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The Carletonian

Weitz Gallery exhibits explore stats, showcase female artists

<rs to the Perlman Teaching Museum this term should expect more than a show of pretty objects. Two new exhibits – “A Complex Weave” and “Running the Numbers” – have been on display at the Weitz Center since Jan. 13, and they offer new perspectives on the environment, tradition and gender.

“A Complex Weave” is a showcase of works by female artists who come from diverse cultural backgrounds and express their messages through a rich variety of media. Painting, sculpture, film, photograph and interactive objects are all part of the exhibit.

Laurel Bradley, curator of the museum, described the exhibit as a continuation of the feminist art movement that emerged in the 1970s.

“This exhibit shows that women are still taking the task of defining the feminist art seriously, while also making an effort to bring more diversity into the feminist art movement,” Bradley said.

Works that emphasize the artists’ traditions figure prominently in “A Complex Weave.” One such work is a series of photographs by Lalla Essaydi, who incorporates aspects of her upbringing in Morocco. In one of her pieces, girls and veiled women with writing on their robes and skin sit in front of a background that is also entirely covered with writing.

“The women and girls in a separate environment are reinforcing separation as a place of freedom,” Bradley said of the piece. “They are covered by text, and text represents an area of traditional male mastery, but the markings on their bodies are made with henna, which is associated with the feminine.”

“Running the Numbers” is an exhibit by Seattle artist Chris Jordan. It comprises images that help visualize statistics relating to consumerism and the environment. Some of the images are parodies of well-known works of art from an earlier era.

An image titled “Cans Seurat” is a copy of Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” but the pointillist effect is recreated by 106,000 miniature images of soda cans instead of painted dots. This represents the number of cans used in the United States every thirty seconds. Other images are original visual representations of the massive scale of modern consumer culture.

Molly and Sue Woehrlin, two Northfield residents visiting the museum, shared their thoughts on the exhibits. Molly described “A Complex Weave” as “thought -provoking,” though she preferred the works that Northfield Middle School students prepared in conjunction with “Running the Numbers.” They were on display at the Weitz Center from Jan. 17 to the time of the actual exhibit.

Sue said, “I often find it hard to see coherence in an exhibit when it is made up of different mediums, but the organization of ‘A Complex Weave’ into different sections by theme made navigating it easier.”
Bradley sees the museum as more than a place to simply admire pictures.

“I am always looking for art that connects to the liberal arts,” she said. “‘Complex Weave’ not only explores questions about feminism, but also the different relationships that people have to their traditions. ‘Running the Numbers,’ brought to Carleton on the initiative of Neil Lutsky, is an examination of how crucial quantitative reasoning skills are in the world we live in.”

The space for art exhibition serves an important purpose at Carleton. According to Bradley, “art is about being human. Artists engage with all the problems and joys of life today. That’s why it’s valuable for a college to dedicate space and a staff to giving artists a voice.”

The exhibits will be on display until March 11.

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