Source Credit:  Content and images from Wall Street International Magazine by .  Read the original article - https://www.meer.com/en/79826-femme

Throughout the history of art, the feminine form has served a multitude of purposes as muse,
model, object of lust, and a representation of societal standards or morals. Presented for public
consumption, women’s bodies were displayed as commodities for the male gaze. In Femme,
SEFA reexamines these notions and explores contemporary depictions of women at our New
York City Gallery. The artists featured in this exhibition are Angela A’Court, Charles Buckley,
Deirdre O’Connell, Deborah Freedman, Miriam Hitchcock, Ruth Shively, Jan Testori-Markman
and Ulla Scheinemann. Femme marks the debut at SEFA for Hitchcock and Testori-Markman.

Women’s figuration has always been a staple of visual language globally. Venus figures, such as
the Venus of Willendorf, are amongst the oldest artworks ever discovered and depict women’s
bodies sculpted with exaggerated sexual features. Though little is known about their purpose or
place in society, scholars have recently suggested they may be self-portraits by paleolithic
sculptors. In more recent history women were barred from art-making for most of the Western
canon. During the Renaissance, few women were permitted to study painting, yet those who
were fortunate to have the opportunity to depict women as far more nuanced and real than their male contemporaries.

Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Slaying Holofernese is a gritty defense of
women’s power, rejecting the delicacy placed on Caravaggio’s Judith. Twentieth-century women
artists began to explore their bodies, gender, and sexuality in their art. Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits examine her health, relationships, and gender expression. Louise Bourgeois created
raw and at times grotesque depictions of the body while exploring relationship dynamics,
sexuality, and mortality. In 1971, Linda Nochlin’s seminal feminist text “Why Have There Been No
Great Women Artists” explored the restrictions placed on women artists and the ever-present
male gaze. At the same time, first-wave feminist artists explored the body in its rawest form and
rejected the expected propriety around women’s issues. In the years following, generations of
women artists have expanded on the work of these women and continue to demand a place for
marginalized communities in the art world.

In Femme, the artists address the figure and femininity in a variety of media. Painting, collage,
silkscreening, drawing, and traditional craft are employed to delineate each subject. Most of the
figures appear alone. Whether surrounded by landscape or set against decorative, patterned
spaces, these solo women express the spectrum of life; joy and celebration, contemplation,
loneliness, contentment, apprehension, curiosity, pride and so much more. They embody
strength and power but do not shy away from vulnerability. Many are androgynous, like
Hitchcock’s painted figures whose simplified forms play with distorted proportions.

Scheinemann’s women stand, waiting, surrounded by landscapes that pulse with life. They are
dwarfed by the world around them, yet hold your attention. Graphic and mysterious, A’Court’s
prints present women who are confronting and bold. Freedman’s print, Royal Flush for Audrey
Flack #1, honors her former professor and poses a proud and unabashedly feminine figure.
Testori-Markman’s textile icons reference the long history of religious imagery and reimagine it.
Placing her anonymous everywoman in the place of saints she questions the labels and
standards put upon women. O’Connell’s mixed media paintings are celebratory and
contemplative. Like Testori-Markman, her paintings are inspired by Byzantine icons, and her
playful holy women to be venerated.

Ruth Shively depicts groups of women that feel set in time and emphasize the importance of
community. Like Shively’s paintings, Buckley’s work appears as if from another era. The nostalgia they exude, when accompanied by the historical reference of Testori-Markman’s work
and hisotical material of A’Court’s Just for One Day, harmonize with the largely contemporary
feeling of the other work. These women are not bound by time or place, their personhood is not
impeded by outside influences.

The women in Femme are largely anonymous with obscured or featureless faces. Others like
the figures of Freedman or Testori-Markman are depicted through silhouette. The artists imbue
character and life with posture and partial glimpses of a face. A tilt of the head, jutting hip, or
reaching hand brings the women to life. Both real and unidentifiable, they can be anyone or
everyone at the same time. The work in this exhibition spans representations of age, race, time, and gender expression. These artists depict women in every guise.

(Text by Shannon O’Deens)

Angela A’Court was born in London, UK, and lives and works in New York and London. She
studied at the University for the Creative Arts UK (UCA), UK, Parsons School of Art and Design,
New York, Goldsmiths College, London, and in 2022 received a Masters from City and Guilds Art
School London in Art & Material Histories. After graduating from Goldsmiths College, A’Court
worked as an interior designer in an architectural practice in London. Her work has been
recorded in magazines including The Sunday Times, Homes and Gardens, and Traditional
Interiors. Her studio and interior work has been included in books such as Pure Pastel, Drawing
and Painting, The Ultimate Paper Craft Book, Modern Rustic, and Interiors by Design.

Throughout her years as a designer, A’Court continued with her studio practice. In 2003, after
moving to New York with her family, she decided to put design to one side and return to working
in the studio full time. From 2014- 2016 A’Court lived in Tokyo, Japan where she worked with
ceramics, returning to New York, she began taking classes at Dieu Donne studio learning about
paper making as an art form. After Tokyo, A’Court studied silk screen at Lower East Side Print
Shop under Master printer Roni Henning. She is currently the silk screen fellow at City & Guilds
Art School.

A’Court has regularly exhibited her work in the UK at venues such as The Pastel Society
(London, UK); The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy (London, UK); The Discerning Eye
(London, UK); and Thompsons Gallery (London, UK) as well as independent galleries. A’Court is
represented by Susan Eley Fine Art (New York, NY and Hudson, NY).

Charles Buckley is an American artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Buckley received a
BFA in painting from the California College of Arts in Oakland, CA in 1994 and an MFA from
Hunter College in New York in 2000. To the artist, the practice of drawing and painting is a
means of engaging with the world and investigating preconceived notions. His notable
“Progression” paintings are rendered on multiple canvases and are an investigation of the
construction of narrative and progress. Often, Buckley’s oeuvre deals with the concept of
“leakage,” which he describes as “the area where things cannot be explained rationally, yet fit
within the logic of the painting and seem to be known.” His works have been acquired by
national and international private collections. The artist has exhibited at venues including
Madarts (Brooklyn, NY); Giacobetti Paul Gallery (Brooklyn, NY); Hunter College (New York, NY);
Gallery Here (Oakland, CA); and CCA Gallery (Oakland, CA). Buckley is represented by Susan
Eley Fine Art (New York, NY and Hudson, NY) and has shown at both of the Gallery’s locations.

Deirdre O’Connell was born in Philadelphia and raised in Pittsfield, MA. She is a self-trained
artist, who attended the Studio School, NYC in 2003. Since 2007, O’Connell has been featured
in numerous solo, two-person, and group exhibitions at SEFA’s New York City and Hudson
locations. She has also exhibited her work at the Gallery at Jimmy’s Number 43, NYC and the
Broderick Fine Art Gallery, Freehold, NY.

Deirdre O’Connell’s series of small paintings, shown since 2007 with SEFA, are inspired by the
works of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. O’Connell’s passion for Chekhov’s texts is more
than that of an avid playgoer. O’Connell is a well-known actress who has appeared in many
Chekhov productions as a stage and film actress. O’Connell moves her characters from stage to
the canvas, giving them an eternal role in a perpetual performance. The artist’s paintings evoke
Medieval icons in their small scale, golden hues, built up paint, flat perspective, and deliberately
distorted anatomy.

More recently, O’Connell has created a series of individual women, triggered by the 2016
election of Donald Trump and the ensuing Women’s March on Washington, leading to her
current body of work of portraits of women colleagues, friends and family.

In addition to her painting career, O’Connell is a well known stage and screen actor. In 2022,
O’Connell won the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
for the production Dana H.

Deborah Freedman lives and works in New York City and Ulster County, NY. She received her
B.A. in studio art from New York University where she studied with Robert Blackburn and Audrey

Freedman is a painter and printmaker whose work is deeply informed by nature. She makes
suites of varying images of the Ashokan Reservoir and the Catskill Mountains. Her inner eye
and skill in etching, monotype, and oil painting captures both the physical and emotional
transformation of her subject.

After 9/11, what had once been an idyllic scene suddenly became threatened and “disturbed.”
Deborah’s work, even though historically abstract, became less homage to the natural world and
more a protest about the potential dangers of environmental and political disaster. The titles of
her work—such as Good Night Irene, With or Without You, and Disturbed Landscapes—refer to
these concerns.

A partial list of collections that feature her work includes The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The
New York Public Library, Rutgers University, The Department of State, the Library of Congress,
IPCNY, The Hess Collection, CITI, Morgan Guarantee Trust, Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital.,
and The Smithsonian Institution. She is also co-owner of VanDeb Editions in Long Island City.

Miriam Hitchcock is a painter and experimental filmmaker whose work has been exhibited
nationally and internationally. In 2021 her paintings were profiled and featured on the cover of
the book, Artists of the Bay Area Volume 1, published by Jen Tough Gallery. Her most recent
short film No Time, with soundtrack by Zoe Keating, was featured in the Mill Valley 45th Film
Festival. Angels, They Say, (another of the eight short films that she has completed to date),
based on the Duiño Elegies of Rainer Maria Rilke, was awarded Best Experimental Film in the
Annual International Copenhagen Film Festival in 2018. Miriam is also the recipient of a Mid
Atlantic/NEA Grant in Painting, and her works on paper are available to view or purchase in the
Pierogi Gallery Flat Files in Brooklyn, New York.

Born in San Francisco, Miriam grew up in a nature-loving family on the peninsula at a time when
there was still plenty of open space to enjoy. She completed a BFA at University of California at
Santa Cruz and received an MFA in Painting from Yale University.

She is a seasoned instructor of studio courses in painting, drawing and design at all levels. Her
teaching career began at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design in
Providence, where her daughter, now a screenwriter and filmmaker in Los Angeles, was born.
As an Assistant Professor of Art at Cornell University she first led studio courses in Rome, Italy
and years later created and taught a summer studio program that partnered the American
University in Rome with U.C.S.C.

Returning to California to live in Santa Cruz in 1992, Miriam taught studio courses at Stanford
University and San Jose State University and was a continuous member of the Art faculty at
University of California Santa Cruz from 1992 until 2012. She now works full-time in her studio in
Santa Cruz.

Ruth Shively was born in Hastings, NE, and received her BFA from the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln in 1988. She moved to New York City during the early 1990s to pursue
illustration and work in an illustration studio. Her work has been featured in solo and group
exhibitions throughout the United States. Solo exhibitions have been hosted at Imogen Gallery,
Astoria, OR; Spur Gallery, Portland, OR; Basil Howard Gallery, Portland, OR; Anthony Phillip
Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY; and Park Row Gallery, Chatham, NY. Shively was awarded an artist
residency at Chateau Orquevaux in Champagne Ardenne, France for the Summer of 2018. One
of Shively’s paintings was recently pictured in an Ian McEwan novel, Nussschale (Nutshell). The
artist lives and works in Portland, OR, and is represented by Susan Eley Fine Art.

Jan Testori-Markman is a NYC-based artist who enjoys experimenting with a variety of
mediums, from rust to latex to sequins. Sewing, formerly known as “women’s work”, had a
powerful impact on her during her childhood and she has continued to incorporate it into her
artwork. In the icon series, Testori-Markman explores the ways in which women present
themselves. She also examines how women can be either celebrated or overlooked in art and in
life. “My goal is to catch a moment when the sitter reveals a unique aspect of themselves, and I
build an image sparked by that glimpse”.

The silhouettes are realized by layers of fabric, held
together by a variety of threads and decorated with sequins, metallic trims, and symbols,
reminiscent of religious icon paintings. The more formal aspects of painting, such as color, form
and line are addressed with scissors and sewing needles. With these pieces, she aims to
stretch the standard conception of what can be considered a painting while celebrating women
from all walks of life.
Jan Testori-Markman received her BFA in apparel design at Massachusetts College of Art in
Boston in 1987. After designing clothing and jewelry for many years she transitioned to
making paintings in her home studio.

Ulla Scheinemann, born 1967, lives and works in Denmark. She studied at the Academy of Fine
Art, Denmark with Anette Olesen and Dick Nyhuus and continued her education at the Royal
Academy of Art in Copenhagen. Her major exhibitions include Shape, color, figure, Artweeks,
Aarhus, DK; Home in change, Hobro Art Floors, DK; Snapshots, West Jutland Art Pavillion,
Skjern, DK; Words, The Cultural Center, Aarhus, DK; Mongerson Gallery, Chicago, US; Portrait
Now, Ljungberg Museum, Sweden and Frederiksborg Castle, DK. The exhibition Landscapes of
Transcendence marks her debut with Susan Eley Fine Art, where the Gallery was proud to
exhibit Scheinemann’s richly detailed paintings of women in nature.

Source Credit:  Content and images from Wall Street International Magazine by .  Read the original article - https://www.meer.com/en/79826-femme