Women's Studies Research Center

Kniznick Gallery

Colorful screens on the Epstein building

Leeza Meksin, Big Bounce, 2014. Installation view

The Arts Program at the Women's Studies Research Center is home to the Kniznick Gallery (Est. 2001).

The Kniznick Gallery is committed to feminist exhibitions of artistic excellence that reflect the activities of the Women's Studies Research Center Scholars and engage communities within and beyond Brandeis University. The art on display is a vehicle through which the Center seeks to promote dialogue about important issues and address the ever-changing challenges related to women and gender.

The gallery is a partner of The Feminist Art Project — a national initiative, housed at Rutgers University, in conjunction with A.I.R. Gallery, ArtTable, CAA, Sackler Center for Feminist Art–Brooklyn Museum, Maryland Institute College of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Through the Flower and Women's Caucus for Art.

A fiber work with a cream background and blue and black elements depicting disembodied feet standing on a threshold outside of a dwelling with a hatched door.

Padma Rajendran, About to Enter, 2018, Acrylic, felt, polyester, silk, stitching on fabric, 57 x 41 inches


A Trick of Light or Distance

Hong Hong  |  Kelsey Miller  |  Helen O'Leary  |  Lauren Pakradooni  |  Padma Rajendran
On View April 3 - July 18, 2024  |  Opening Reception: Wednesday, April 3, 5-7 pm

A Trick of Light or Distance presents five artists’ iterative processes as they negotiate materiality and place. Traversing home, landscape, migration, and memory, the artists explore the experience of locating oneself, if only temporarily. In this exhibition, Hong HongKelsey MillerHelen O’LearyLauren Pakradooni, and Padma Rajendran employ fiber, sculpture, painting, printmaking, and paper across site-specific and studio interventions. The artists harness, manipulate, and expand symbols and materials of our domestic and natural worlds to honor shifting relationships to tradition and land. Reflecting states of flux, labor, and physical markers of its production, their work traces cultural, geographic, and subjective notions of place.

Hong Hong’s absorbing and monumental site-specific paper paintings engage with themes of landscape, migration, home, and self-location. Immersive in scale, her works map their own making, recording the distinct, physical gestures through which Hong builds the paintings, and storing the natural fibers and urban debris of their sites. 

Kelsey Miller’s work presents aspects of landscape and place, largely stemming from her profound interest in and connection to the environment. She conducts site-responsive research, collecting rubbings, drawings, and tracings of rock, sea, and chunks of glacial ice. Translating her studies into vaporous, amalgamated boulder-sized wall drawings executed in graphite powder, Miller confronts a landscape in constant flux.  

Helen O’Leary combines precision and craft with an expansive, solution-driven aesthetic. She builds fractured and luminous self-standing paintings with meticulous joinery and egg tempera sourced from pigments collected in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Leitrim, Ireland. Assembling rectilinear bits into undulating organic fields, O’Leary "knits with wood," naming those of human scale “feminist armor.”

Lauren Pakradooni draws upon the natural and the human-made to reimagine, manipulate, and recontextualize images of plant life long employed by the decorative arts. Informed by domestic labor, growth cycles of plants, and the history of design, Pakradooni digitally edits and disrupts her images before translating them into sculptures and prints. Specific and referential, yet otherworldly, the work confronts the relationship between bodies and nature. 

Padma Rajendran builds atmospheric textile tableaus and ceramic works that foreground contradictory understandings of home, homecoming, and homeland. Depicting shrines and monuments amidst domestic motifs, Rajendran grapples with symbols of sustenance and comfort, traditionally derived from the labor of the female body. Rajendran encodes and adorns fabrics of various hierarchies with glyph-like drawings that honor and sustain immigrant women’s stories. 

A Trick of Light or Distance borrows its title from Emily Pittinos' poem, A Cloud of Drench Bearing Down.