Intimate Patterns

I’m super excited to have a solo exhibition at the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art! The exhibition opened on January 14 and will remain on display through February 24 in the University Gallery at the Center for Art & Theatre, Georgia Southern University. Entitled Intimate Patterns, the exhibition examines the psychological complexity of women through intimate observations of the bedroom.

“Myers is fast gaining the reputation for being one of the great emerging painters in the United States and we are extremely fortunate to present this exhibition,” said Marc Mitchell, Gallery Director for the Department. “While many of the images are very provocative, Myers is concerned with issues that extend far beyond seduction. Her paintings tackle topics facing contemporary females, such as the cult of beauty in mass media, personal and professional independence, and vulnerability.”

“Femininity is both the condition and the effect.” -­‐Griselda Pollock
Modernity and the Spaces of Femininity

Throughout the history of art, the use of the female form has been both a cornerstone and a controversy. In fact, one could argue that no other subject was a topic of more debate in the critical discourse of late twentieth century art history. While the canon of art history has long celebrated particular convictions and traditions championed by male artists, these conventions have slowly shifted over time. Beginning in the 1960’s, the expansion of both social and gender norms in American culture led to new artistic expressions of sexuality and identity.

At first, the work of Karen Ann Myers might be read as an ironic reflection of the “male gaze.” However, upon closer viewing, it becomes apparent that Myers’ work is a thoughtful meditation on how female sexuality and material consumption continues to be negotiated by the mass media. Myers’ intricate imagery reflects a variegated response to the daily bombardment of cultural messages received by female American consumers; her paintings react with a sometimes uneasy balance of embrace and rejection. In this respect, her pictures can simultaneously appear to glamorize and critique luxurious textiles that must be procured at a home décor boutique, or a popular magazine’s idea of beauty.

Almost all of the spaces highlighted in Myers’ paintings are domestic—in particular, the bedroom. While female artists have regularly painted domestic environments, Myers uses this frame to explore notions of social space by manipulating perspective and proximity. In her essay Modernity and the Spaces of Femininity, Griselda Pollock discusses relationships between objects and pictorial space: “Space is represented according to the way it is experienced by a combination of touch, texture, as well as sight.” Myers’ paintings highlight the connection between what is seen and what is felt by transforming an image into a tactile experience for the viewer.

Myers’ work has also been referred to as “cinematic” since she routinely creates a voyeuristic atmosphere. She utilizes her environments and subjects to structure mini-­‐ narratives from life, including her own personal experiences. In this sense her work might be seen as providing documentary evidence. Yet far from being neutral or objective, Myers’ paintings impose a high degree of structure on reality—her work might be more appropriately termed “hyperrealist”.

While societal norms may always be in flux, there are many aspects of culture that continue to remain constant. It is important for artists like Myers to continue to focus on issues facing contemporary American females, such as the cult of beauty perpetuated in mass media, professional and personal independence, sexuality, and vulnerability.

Words by: Marc Mitchell, Curator/Gallery Director

Karen Ann Myers