The Dispossessed by Carolyn Harper Cohen
Muse Gallery is pleased to present The Dispossessed by Carolyn Harper Cohen. The exhibition will run from November 1st – November 27th, 2017 with an opening reception First Friday, November 3rd from 5-8:00 p.m.
Carolyn Harper Cohen’s work has a strong social justice component to it as she creates images of people or groups who have been marginalized, discriminated against, or abused. Each of the works in this exhibit is of a particular Philadelphian; someone living in an area homeless shelter or on the streets. Many of these individuals are children. The works provide faces to those who are faceless, nameless and powerless, and bear witness to those who are suffering. The beauty that the artistic process brings to the images creates a tension with the inherent cruelty of the lives of the subjects; in admiring the works, the viewer becomes almost complicit in their abuse and neglect.
The works consist of either hand embroidered batiks or hand sewn large art quilts. The methods are layered, as are the colors. The work is tactile and raw rather than slick; the fabric hand dyed, each stitch obsessively sewn by hand. The engrossing surface quality slows down perception, encouraging viewers to react to the work in a very deliberate way.
This work can be seen within the context of ‘craftivism’: a term coined in 2003 by writer Betsy Greer which can be defined as “a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper and your quest for justice more infinite.”
Craft has traditionally been viewed as ‘women’s work’ and as such was marginalized and undervalued, but the craft techniques in this work can be seen as subverting the traditional genre of portraiture. Piecing fabric together creates an image that is quite different, and less real, than a painting, which oftentimes seeks to imitate and/or idealize the person being portrayed. Instead, Carolyn Harper Cohen has searched to find the individual and emotional human character of each individual.
Thank you to Carolyn Harper Cohen for the content of this post.
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