Contemporary Expression

Indelible: The Photographs of Lalla Essaydi
December 27, 2008, 11:40 pm
Filed under: artwork, Frist Center, Living An Artful Life, symbols, The Art Files
Lalla Essaydi – Converging Territories #10, 2005
Chromogenic print, 48 x 60 in.
Courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts opened in the Gordon Contemporary Artist Project Gallery and exhibition of 17 photographs by Moroccan artist, Lalla Essaydi. The images will be on view through January 29, 2009. The multi-layer complex images are created in what she calls workshops. Essaydi gathers with as many as 20 women and girls in her family’s country home where they sit for lengthy sessions during which the artist covers their skin and often their clothing and the walls around them , with an elegant Arabic calligraphic scripts.
The act of combining the female craft of henna body painting and the traditional male art of Arabic calligraphy is a subversive act. By doing so , she ignores long-standing gender associations of both art forms and the hierarchical distinctions between them. Be sure to pick up a copy of overview of this work by Trinita Kennedy, associate curator during your visit.
January 8, 2009 6 :30pm LECTURE: “Unspoken Words: Contemporary women Artists from the Middle East and North Africa”
FREE in the Frist Auditorium
Dr, Maryam Ekhtiar, senior research associate in the department of Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will explore art produced by women from the region with a particular focus on Lalla Essaydi. All the artist use calligraphy as their chief mode of expression as the grapple with issues of gender, socio-political orientation and cultural identity.
Lalla Essaydi – Les Femmes du Maroc #36, 2007
Chromogenic print, 48 x 60 in. Courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
As I prepare for what I consider to be a new phase in my own artful life I have been drawn back to Lalla’s photographs now on a third visit to the Gordon Contemporary Gallery at The Frist. The thoughtfulness of her work is intense. 2009 in my studio will brings a new chapter of symbols, history and advocacy. I hope you can find the time to visit this show and find a way to create your own subversive act of hope and art in the new year.

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