MARCH 25 – MAY 12 | 2023
Shin-hee Chin, Nadia Anjuman Liza MacKinnon, Horsewoman of the Apocalypse
OPENING RECEPTION April 1 | 2023
1-4 pm | Artist remarks at 2 pm
Free Admission | Refreshments and Conversation
Materials and imagery traditionally associated with women are used in novel ways by Liza MacKinnon and Shin-hee Chin to highlight the importance of women’s work.
Women’s Work II is a title with a double meaning. Chin and MacKinnon use connotations of material and imagery into a conduit for thematic choices and employ these tools in novel ways.
Liza MacKinnon draws on attire as a source of meaning, but instead of using fabrics, the artist turns to a different medium. At a distance, MacKinnon’s material of choice may not be obvious, but upon closer examination it is revealed that the half-scale figures are sculpted with a selection of papers, each relating in interesting ways to the woman portrayed in the work.
MacKinnon brings women’s contributions to literature into center focus in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Wollstonecraft Shelly penned Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus. It was published in 1818 anonymously, likely because it was scandalous that such subject matter would be written by a woman. Only in the second edition, printed 1821, was the author’s name put on her work. MacKinnon clearly makes the connection between artist and work. The dress is made entirely from pages of Frankenstein , sewn together and painted to look like velvet, accented with exaggerated black surgery stitches on her skirt to hint at his re-construction.
In the exhibit, you will also see MacKinnon’s Lucy Hobbs Taylor was the first woman PhD dentist in America and a resident of Lawrence in later life. The story of this pioneering achievement is shared through 19th Century maps of Lawrence, Taylor’s diploma, and images around the hem of the dress. Each gives a glimpse of the world Taylor lived in, as well as her triumphs. Taylor was not finished working after closing her dental practice. She shifted her focus to politics and women’s rights.
In Shin-hee Chin’s large, colorful piece, Sisterhood, we see the artist appropriating existing traditional Korean dress and Japanese kimonos and blankets to share the story of two women and their improbable connection:
Japan and Korea have a long history marred by strife. Unlikely as their friendship was, two women were brought together in sisterhood by those circumstances – Queen Yi Bangja (born Nashimoto) and Princess Deokhye. Although Nashimoto was Japanese by birth, she had an arranged marriage to the Prince of Korea. Princess Deokhye, who was Korean by birth, received similar treatment, and lived in Japan. While their motherlands were locked in hostile relations, the two women were united by similar personal circumstances.
The central theme of Women’s Work is the important work of women, the significant contributions women make, sometimes to their own peril, as exemplified in Chin’s Seed of hope (Sister Stang).
Sister Dorothy Mae Stang spent much of her adult life in Brazil and was an outspoken advocate against deforestation and the treatment of local small farm owners. This activism ultimately cost Sister Stang her life, being shot six times, which Chin references in her work. The six concentric circles in Seed of hope (Sister Stang) serve to remind viewers of this brutal act but also represent the important work the nun did, rippling out and resonating after her death.
L I Z A M A C K I N N O N
“I love the challenge of telling a story and sharing my values through the limited medium of historic costumes fashioned from paper. Using traditional fiber techniques such as embroidery and hand sewing, the humble highway map and other paper ephemera is transformed into life-size children’s dresses and half scale historic portraits. Each dress provides a beautiful silhouette from a distance and then reveals minute and copious details up close.
My paper costumes are a natural extension of a lifetime spent illustrating, painting, and making prints of historic garments.
These paper garments, which can take weeks to complete, are made relevant by the materials included. I enjoy surprising the viewer, either with the trompe l’oeil of paper masquerading as fabric, or with thought provoking materials such as making Ophelia in Hamlet out of pages from the DSM IV or nudging the conversation by creating a Marie Antoinette made of 1040 tax forms and US currency. Although the parameters are limited, the possibilities are endless as I combine statements about my ideals with my obsession with historical clothing.
Creating this collection of colorful three-dimensional adult garments and whimsical children’s clothing has been such a pleasure. I hope you enjoy seeing some paper illusions and fancy costumes. Custom commissions are always welcome.”
Liza MacKinnon is a self-taught mixed-media artist and arts educator with 10+ years of experience in teaching, freelance graphic design and exhibited artwork. Working in Lawrence, KS, she has shown regionally in KS and MO as well as NM, WA, CA, IL, SD and TX. She has pieces in private collections all over the US and six of her pieces are on permanent display at the Dallas Public Library and the Lucas Grassroots Art Center. Liza specializes in ½ scale historic costumes made of paper, creating in-depth studies of women in history. Recently awarded a fellowship at the International Women’s Study Center in Santa Fe in 2024, Liza looks forward to expanding to full scale adult garments made from the historical archives of the Acequia Madre House.
S H I N – H E E C H I N
“Cultural context has most shaped my work as I have spent half my life in South Korea and the past two decades in the United States. I have had equal exposure to two vastly different cultures. In my years dealing with issues of a bi-cultural lifestyle, art has helped me reconcile the conflicting nature of these influences. My work reflects this binary approach – female vs. male, East vs. West, art vs. craft – all those paradoxes inhabit the same space just as both Korea and America co-exist in me. From these cultures, I draw inspiration specifically from the feminist tradition, Christian spirituality, and Eastern philosophy.
In my work, I attempt to carve out what I proudly call a feminine territory in which the voices of effaced and silenced women reverberate, and to translate the experiences of women in a way that people of different ethnic backgrounds and cultural experiences can understand. For that purpose, I utilize needle, thread, and fabric to call into question the deep-seated bias that women’s work is menial, marginal and undesirable. I convert the conventional “feminine” activity of needlework into a useful medium for the making of art. Each collage from fabric that was cut, ironed, pasted, and stitched. In addition to fabric and needlework, I use sumi ink, acrylic/oil paints, various papers, and calligraphic techniques.
The slow nature of my technique mimics the creative process of birthing. This recalls the gradual forming of the fetus through the intersection of capillary within the belly of the mother or the silkworm’s patient and continuous spinning leading to the creation of its cocoon. The techniques have an important meaning for me both as a compositional device and as an obsessive activity. In experimenting with a variety of “domestic” media such as clothes, threads, and paper, my hands participate in the process of the intricate linking of the irregular pattern of threads that form vein, skin, and scar. Thus, these pieces speak not so much of sorrow, anger, regrets, but rather, of healing, recovering, inner joy attained by/through converting the physical, oppressive condition into the stimulating and dynamic inner resources for creative life. Through the strategic use of media that have been traditionally associated with the feminine, I want to show that seemingly ‘trivial female work’ can be a source of pleasure and power for women.
While feminism has influenced my choice in media and technique, my Christianity has shaped concepts and themes in my work. Art and spirituality serve similar functions in my life. Art uses visual elements to explore and communicate truth; spirituality is just another mode of my exploration and communication of truth. They both help me understand life and this world.
Eastern philosophy, on the other hand, has shaped my art-making in terms of process and approach. My role in relationship to my work is more as a “collaborator” than as a creator. This conception echoes the Eastern understanding of art and artists. Eastern philosophy, in contrast to Western philosophy, conceived the self-effacement and non-mindedness of an artist as the primary step to be taken before Nature could truly be free at work. By working with the nature of the material, the work maintains integrity. Art then becomes the product of a dialogue with Nature, rather than the process of subduing it.”
Join us on April 1st for the opening reception of Women’s Work II. Artist remarks at 2 pm.
Light refreshments provided. Free admission.
The first Women’s Work exhibit at Volland: Women’s Work | Points of View, September 20 – December 20, 2015. Textile artist Debra Smith paired her work with vintage American quilts collected by Elizabeth Wilson, Asiatica.