I marvel at an image makers ability to explore new territory, and Carrie Yury is doing just that with her two series, Suits and First Ladies. Both series examine the women’s role in American politics by looking at abstractions or fragments of their clothing, and providing us a gesture of who they are. Suits are extreme close-ups of political women’s clothing, blown up and abstracted. First Ladies is a series of photo-drawings that explore the imagined psyches of American Presidents’ wives; the artist creates invented monologues, based on widely available biographical data, that are then written/drawn on top of each mediated image.
Carrie opens an exhibition of this work at the Sam Lee Gallery in Los Angeles on September 11, running through October 23rd. Her intellectual curiosity comes from a multi-degreed education, receiving her MFA from University of California, Irvine, and an MA from the University of Chicago.
Suits question the construction of public personality for women politicians. For instance, the attention paid to Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits or Michelle Obama’s dresses epitomizes the way in which women are framed in politics as both subject and surface or object; their intellectual capabilities and their femininity exaggerated, scrutinized or maligned. Reformatting a downloaded image and then reprinting it to a larger size, the clothing–the very thing that garners attention–becomes greatly abstracted, leaving the viewer with very little or no visual cues of the identity of the subject.
Images from Suits
Michelle Obama, Inauguration, 2009
From the series, Suits
Hillary Mango, measuring 32-by-24 inches in size, depicts a cropped section of the mango-colored pantsuit that Hillary Clinton wore while giving her concession speech at the Democratic National Convention. Clinton’s historic, dramatic run for president, and the tension over her unwillingness to admit defeat are only obliquely referenced in this portrait. Instead, the viewer is asked to consider, at very close range, what Clinton wore. The artist’s intense, exaggerated focus on the surface is both a critique and an exploration of our cultural fascination with political women’s appearance.
Continuing Yury’s fascination with how American women are represented in private and public life, First Ladies attempts to go beyond the surface and into the substance of their experience. For this series, Yury inhabits or borrows the consciousness of each first lady by creating snippets of narrative explanation and reaction to key events in the First Lady’s life. embodiment of a political party.
Nancy shows a faceless, former first lady in an elegant red dress; the figure is cropped to an anonymous bust. Projected thoughts/texts are written/drawn on the surface of the garment. Details from Reagan’s life such as the attempted assassination of her husband to their personal relationship are literally inscribed on the subject’s body. Yury, playing out the role of the first lady, uses a confessional voice, exploring the tensions created by the incommensurability of the personal with living in the public eye, particularly as the feminine.
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