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“Feminism Today”
monOrchid, Phoenix, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

Mary Shindell, "Satellite 7: beans/flowers/rocks," lithograph, 22 x 30"

Continuing through March 29, 2015

Connections to empowerment, equality and other feminist themes are subtle but satisfying in this group show encompassing paintings, drawings, mixed media, installations and ceramics. Probably more important is the fact that “Feminism Today” brings together 13 Arizona-based female artists with much to say, all of whom are enjoying careers on an upward trajectory.

One exemplary piece is “Anatomy of Support Structures” by Monica Aissa Martinez, a Phoenix resident selected for the recent “State of the Art” exhibition at Crystal Bridges. The 7-foot-tall mixed media piece depicts a nude male and female in standing, Zen-like poses, the man touching the sole (or could it be the soul?) of the upside-down woman next to him. Throughout the piece are colorful, phantasmagorical representations of muscles, tissues, cells, blood, bones and DNA strands — like anatomical illustrations through the filter of an acid trip. Phoenix artist Mary Shindell, similarly, likes to break down biology into its minutest parts, but with a focus on desert flora. She is represented in the show by three meticulous drawings affording semi-abstract views of seed pods, flower petals and other organic matter, all hinting at the reproductive cycle.

Also decidedly female, if not feminist, in tone is the encaustic-on-panel “Luteal Phase” by Lara Plecas, an array of deep-red circles connoting phases of the moon. Then there’s Marilyn Szabo’s triptych of large-format black-and-white prints of the magnetic Maria Callas in performance, with her face alternately showing jubilation, slyness and pensiveness that makes a strong statement on women’s authority as artists.

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