Billed as a revolutionary art show, “SHE” comes to the M.V. Art Association’s Old Sculpin Gallery on Saturday, Sept. 8. The goal is to ignite creative consideration of what constitutes the feminine. The exhibit has been drawn from over 140 pieces created by 70 artists. MVAA members Meg Mercier’s oil paintings and Melinda Fager’s photography will also be on display. The opening reception is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 9, and the exhibit will be up through Sept. 14.
Among the artists whose work will be shown at “SHE” are recent college graduates who come from the Vineyard or who summer here. Artists from other galleries will also be included, as well as members of the MVAA. Among the female icons the gallery has listed for consideration are “girl, lady, mother, Madonna, witch, femme, butch, doyenne.” Artists have been encouraged to confront their preconceptions about the feminine and their reactions to other artists’ representations of it.
“I didn’t expect so big a response,” Old Sculpin’s general manager, Colleen Daly, who curated the show, said in an interview last week. Artist Kara Taylor juried the show. “Kara’s work often deals with women,” Daly said. “I thought her pieces were uniquely feminine. I wanted to work with her.”
“We wanted to interact with new artists and provide the opportunity to show artists who would otherwise not exhibit here,” said Daly. She emphasized the value of sharing the rich history of Old Sculpin Gallery and its ideal location on Dock Street in Edgartown. More than 240 years old, the building most recently served as a boatbuilder’s shed before becoming the gallery.
Daly suggests that in classic art, women are often represented as passive, placid, angelic, mythological, or lovers. They were not much considered beyond their subjecthood, but that has changed over time.
In addition to oil painting, watercolor, and photography, the show will include video art and interactive sculpture. Chilmark’s M.V. Film Festival has lent the gallery two iPads to be used as viewing stations for the video art.
Melinda Fager, whose work will also be on display, has been coming to the Vineyard for 36 years. She writes, “I try to convey the joy of this magical place through my photographs, whether it’s the changing light on the landscape, the wild beauty of the surrounding waters, or just the everyday details of the simple family life we enjoy when we’re here.” She is also the author, with her husband Jeff, of “Living Off the Sea: On the Island of Chappaquiddick.”
Meg H. Mercier studied at the Boston Fenway studios, worked plein air with Robert Douglass Hunter and at Nantucket’s Ridgewood Institute with John Philip. Her oil paintings of landscapes, seascapes, and street scenes are inspired by the Island. She is MVAA co-president.
The MVAA’s mission is to preserve and enhance the cultural life of the Vineyard by engaging new artists and audiences in innovative, relevant material. The “SHE” exhibit is part of the MVAA’s outreach program. The MVAA also provides art education, annual scholarship awards, and exhibits of its permanent collection of Island art.