The Harwood Museum of Art is opening two exhibitions this weeked that take unusual approaches to the concept of portraits. The shows, titled “The Errant Eye: Portraits in a Landscape” and “Self.i.e: The Works of Sarah Stolar,” open to the public Saturday (June 3).
‘The Errant Eye’
Portrait denotes a “likeness,” an image of someone real, an existence it captures for us, an essence it proffers for discernment, a press release states. “This primary sense of portraiture, as a vital link to a natural order outside the mind—to reality—is arguably the most constant trait in the long and winding course of Western visual representation, whether in its pictorial manifestations as painting or drawing, its plastic embodiment as sculpture, or its disclosure in the camera’s eye.”
A portrait, then, “is not simply a likeness,” the release continues. “It is a figure in space. A portrait unfolds in a landscape. It is a narrative. And the narrative import of landscape for portrait is especially telling for Taos and northern New Mexico.”
“Continuum,” a recent Harwood exhibition, described the region’s high desert aesthetic, “the locus of its enduring appeal to émigré and native artist alike: ‘a landscape of vast imaginative force—sublime, humbling, and transformative—with its abiding local cultures: a unique sense of place and peoples that would profoundly affect their art, beliefs, and aspirations.’
“The portrait’s vital role in the representation of reality in Western art is seen in its twofold power to reveal the legacy of colonization in American art— émigré artist portraits reveal the Anglo’s admiration of the indigenous Pueblo and local Hispano cultures, yet one that, to quote from a recent study on that legacy, was often ‘mired … in racial bias and condescension’ typical of the period— and at the same time to address that legacy in the artist’s very act of choosing the subject.”
In the case of the artist portrait, it is its contingent relation with its environment. It is the portrait in a landscape.
A community opening for this show is planned noon until 5 p.m. at the museum.
‘Self.i.e, the Works of Sarah Stolar’
An opening reception for this show is planned Saturday (June 3), from 2-4 p.m. at the Harwood’s Studio 238. Stolar’s expressive, large-scale images of women capture internal, psychological aspects that express qualities of power, vulnerability and alter egos. The stories told raise issues of femininity and societal expectations of women, investigating the contradictions that arise from these suppositions and how they manifest in and influence the psyche.
A press release states, “The women in the ‘Self.i.e.’ series are immediately present and visually dominant; they cannot be ignored. … Stolar asks her sitters to take these images while alone and uninterrupted in an effort to capture an internal defining quality. Many images are exchanged before the final selection, and this dialog between the artist and subject allows the women to maintain a certain level of control over how they are depicted. The women in the series are artists and activists. They have in some way inspired profound creative and personal growth within the artist, but more importantly, they share their inherent gifts in a knowing effort to evoke positive social change.”
Stolar is an interdisciplinary artist who lives in Santa Fe. The breadth of her work includes painting, drawing, multimedia installation, film, video and performance art. She is the daughter of accomplished multimedia artist and educator Merlene Schain and a descendant of 19th-century German master painter Adolph von Menzel. A committed educator for more than 15 years, she serves on multiple boards and academic committees and is chairperson of the Art Department at the University of New Mexico-Taos.
The opening reception is free and open to the public.
For more information, visit harwoodmuseum.org or contact the Harwood Museum of Art at (575) 758-9826, ext. 109.
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