Artists offer complementary bodies of work

New exhibit examining female form opens at Women's Studies Research Center

Stacy Latt Savage's "Gravity"

Painter Laurie Kaplowitz adorns the figures she creates, while sculptor Stacy Latt Savage strips them down.

Together, the artists will offer two complementary views of the female form in “Embodied,” an exhibit opening Oct. 11 at the Kniznick Gallery in the Women’s Studies Research Center.

“Both of us in our careers are very committed to representing the human figure,” Kaplowitz says. “It shows something about physical beauty and emotional beauty.”

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Dates to remember

Opening reception – Oct. 19, 5 to 7:30 p.m.

Artist’s slide talk – Nov. 3, 6:30 p.m.

Panel discussion “The Female Body in Contemporary Art” – Nov. 17, 2 p.m.

All programs will be held in the WSRC lecture hall and are free and open to the public.

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Kaplowitz paints iconic heads of women, adorned with the flora and fauna of the earth, representing a universal impulse to beautify oneself. Conversely, Savage’s figurative sculptures are stripped of embellishment to expose an underlying emotional core. Kaplowitz’s paintings for the exhibit were inspired by a trip to southern India, where she observed women wearing beads, metal work and plant fibers.

“It’s a very tribal area and a woman who has something on her head – water jugs, a basket with chickens in it – is a common sight,” Kaplowitz says. “Obviously, we do it, too – piercing and tattooing – we just don’t recognize it as the same thing. That speaks very succinctly about changing ideas in our definition of beauty.”

She also noted the proximity with which humans and animals exist in that part of the world. Her work weaves together the idea of adornment and animal spirits to create hybrid lifeforms: emblematic female heads festooned with birds or butterflies, or decked with deer antlers.

“I don’t really have a political message, I just feel [adornment] is something that’s hardwired into our DNA,” Kaplowitz says. “I’m fascinated that some of the oldest objects that man made are strings of shells that were necklaces, to be used for social attention.”

Savage’s sculptures are stripped down, adorned not even with hair or clothing, but with emotions and conflicts she extracts from her own life. Realistically rendered heads and torsos merge with “bodies” consisting of criss-crossed rusted rods, oversized spinal columns, and dripping, bulbous forms.

“My work is about scenarios we all experience,” Savage says. “Putting on a good face, but crumbling inside. Calm and anxious in the same body. I think people can relate to that duality.”

The artists, both professors in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Massachusetts Darmouth, say that the exclusion of male figures isn’t the message, but rather just medium.

“The figures happen to be women, because we’re both women,” Kaplowitz says.

Savage, who calls Kaplowitz a mentor, agrees adding, “If we were men, we’d probably create male figures. It’s more truthful.”

The artists think their work is a good pairing, and will together engender a raw, emotional response from viewers.

“Mine are about anxiety and chaos and strife and loss,” Latt Savage says. “Her figures end up becoming enhanced and more beautiful. Two ends of the spectrum.”


Categories: Arts

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