MUSAC Leon °

MUSAC - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León / Avenida de los Reyes Leoneses, 24
ES-24008 Leon

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The American artist Clare E. Rojas (Ohio, USA, 1976) is presenting an individual exhibition for the first time in Spain, and in it she will be turning to a drawing-based installation to show the world of iconography behind American folk imagery, through her complex vision of ‘folk art’. Animal anthropology, landscapes and the various characters: all emerge as visual references to American folk culture and traditional lore. With no straight narrative behind them, her drawings each offer a fragment of unreality, an alternate world in which the women characters can escape from contemporary realities. The result is a large composition of scenes that form a kind of graphic novel telling of a complex, allegory-rich world. Her appropriation of various folk images to address female social concerns is directly related to the feminist tradition of the 1970s, and more specifically to Miriam Schapiro and Judy Chicago.

Panel paintings and gouache wall works show the highly imaginative universe of this artist. Her small-scale paintings recall the simple lines of adolescent drawings, with women characters sharing the stage with birds, serpents, bears and other creatures. This coexistence of animal anthropology and human life is reminiscent not only of comic books and children’s story books but also in a way of the iconography used by the artist Marcel Dzama. With her links to street art and her proximity to artists like Ed Templenton and Chris Johanson, this artist does not restrict herself to pictorial installations: she also produces animation videos, performances and musical performances, she being better known as a musician under the pseudonym Peggy Honeywell.

The composition of her scenes, in which women take the leading roles, spells out a veritable symbology alluding either to the individual or to the collective as the case may be. Indeed, many of her installations are designed as vast patchwork impressions, a technique widely used in North America and based on stitching together scraps of cloth to form a huge quilt in which colour features prominently. There is even a family tradition by which each woman in succeeding generations has to add another patch to the quilt, thereby contributing her portion of history and tradition to the “family history”.

The universe that Clare E. Rojas shows us is built on her own free-ranging imagination, and in it her women characters engage in a number of different activities. Her thorough painting shows flat images designed using a range of colours reminiscent of naïve art. Yet her drawings in their turn hold a highly complex vision, ironic and amusing, of the deepest feelings of women. Her work implies a reinterpretation of the historical role of women, subjugated to the masculine eye throughout history; accordingly, in her ironic drawings the artist presents the male figure subjected to the female vision, thereby complicating the viewers’ stance as they find themselves looking at scenes in which sexual roles are upset through what is real and what is supposedly constructed. Small-format works which, when seen independently, look like scraps of cloth from those patchwork quilts, but which as a whole reflect on the role of women, as the artist herself explains: “I want all women to be able to walk into my space and not be bombarded with imagery that has negative value to her”.

Clare E. Rojas: biographic note Clare E. Rojas (born in Ohio, USA, 1976) studied for her M.F.A at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has put on individual exhibitions in a number of galleries, such as the Galleri Nicolai Wallner (Copenhagen, Denmark) and the Stuart Shave / Modern Art (London), and museums, including the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita (Kansas, USA – 2006), the Art Rose Museum (San Francisco, 2006), and the Deitch Projects (New York, USA, 2004), as well as taking part in collective exhibitions, among them being Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art, Skateboarding and Street Culture in the Contemporary Art Center, (Cincinnati, Ohio), a travelling exhibition that is being put on in various museums until 2007. She has also been invited to appear in various fairs and biennials, among them the Prague Biennial (2005), and Arco’06 (Madrid, Spain). She has won various prizes and awards, and has taken part in various cinema festivals with her animation videos, such as the New York Underground Film Festival (2000), and has also released recordings of some of her performances under the name Peggy Honeywell, among them being Money for Dinner, Peggy Honeywell (Galaxia Records).

Laboratorio 987, the MUSAC’s project room Laboratorio 987, the MUSAC room specifically devoted to artistic projects, is an additional space that operates independently of the Museum’s general programme. The first artist to appear there was Silvia Prada (Ponferrada, Spain, 1969), with her specifically designed project Hot or Not, which ran from April to May 2005. After that came a video project by Fikret Atay (Batman, Turkey, 1976) under the name Sonidos Lejanos / Distant Sounds. Then Abigail Lazkoz (Bilbao, Spain, 1972) put on the project called Esconde la mano from September to October 2005; following that, Ryan McGinley (New Jersey, USA, 1978) showed his photographic exhibition Between us / Entre nosotros from November to December 2005, while Wilfredo Prieto (Santi Spíritus, Cuba, 1977) designed his installation Mucho ruido y pocas nueces II, which ran from December 2005 to March 2006. Monika Sosnoswka (Ryki, Poland, 1972) staged her Untitled installation from March to May 2006. Philipp Fröhlich (Schweinfurt, Germany, 1975) was behind the painting exhibition Exvoto. Where is Nikki Black? shown from September to November 2006, and Pauline Fondevila (Le Havre, France, 1972) will be showing her installation Novembe Song from November 2006 to January 2007.

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Sympathetic magic
Clare E. Rojas (Ohio, USA, 1976)
Kurator: Tania Pardo