First Ladies and Suits
Los Angeles, CA - Sam Lee Gallery is pleased to present Suits/First Ladies by Los Angeles-based multi-media artist Carrie Yury. The gallery will host a reception for the artist on Saturday, September 11, from 6 to 9 pm. The show opens September 11 and closes on October 23. Suits/First Ladies is Yury's third solo exhibition with the gallery.
Carrie Yury’s two most recent series, Suits and First Ladies, both examine the women’s role in American politics. In each of these photo-based series, Yury turns traditional portraiture on its head by avoiding the frontal depiction of each subject’s countenance and focusing instead on the subject’s body as a fragment and/or abstraction. Yury digitally downloads very small resolution files of public relations pictures, using them as source images to make each work. Suits (2008-2009) are extreme close-ups of political women’s clothing, blown up and abstracted. First Ladies (2010) is a series of photo-drawings that explore the imagined psyches of American Presidents’ wives; the artist creates invented monologues, based on widely available biographical data, that are then written/drawn on top of each mediated image.
Images from Suits question the construction of public personality for women politicians. For instance, the attention paid to Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits or Michelle Obama’s dresses epitomizes the way in which women are framed in politics as both subject and surface or object; their intellectual capabilities and their femininity exaggerated, scrutinized or maligned. Reformatting a downloaded image and then reprinting it to a larger size, the clothing--the very thing that garners attention--becomes greatly abstracted, leaving the viewer with very little or no visual cues of the identity of the subject. Hillary Mango, measuring 32-by-24 inches in size, depicts a cropped section of the mango-colored pantsuit that Hillary Clinton wore while giving her concession speech at the Democratic National Convention. Clinton’s historic, dramatic run for president, and the tension over her unwillingness to admit defeat are only obliquely referenced in Yury’s portrait. Instead, the viewer is asked to consider, at very close range, what Clinton wore. The artist’s intense, exaggerated focus on the surface is both a critique and an exploration of our cultural fascination with political women’s appearance.
Continuing Yury’s fascination with how American women are represented in private and public life, First Ladies attempts to go beyond the surface and into the substance of their experience. For this series, Yury inhabits or borrows the consciousness of each first lady by creating snippets of narrative explanation and reaction to key events in the First Lady’s life. Nancy (2010) shows a faceless, former first lady in an elegant red dress; the figure is cropped to an anonymous bust. Projected thoughts/texts are written/drawn on the surface of the garment. Details from Reagan’s life such as the attempted assassination of her husband to their personal relationship are literally inscribed on the subject’s body. Yury, playing out the role of the first lady, uses a confessional voice, exploring the tensions created by the incommensurability of the personal with living in the public eye, particularly as the feminine embodiment of a political party.