Caitlin Cherry: Dirtypower
Providence College Galleries, Providence, United States05 Dec 2018 - 02 Mar 2019
“Caitlin Cherry demands more than mere painting is willing to provide. She teases the viewer with the promise of illusionistic painterly space and then she catapults her canvas into the void, forcing it to exist in real time, building little fortresses, and firing cannons in its general direction. I have a sense she will continue to break apart the rules governing painting and sculpture, and tease that unsettling sweet spot that disarms viewers’ expectations.” – Kara Walker, 2016
Caitlin Cherry combines painting, sculpture and installation with references to history, identity and current political events. With obliquely narrative compositions, she draws as much from the traditions of art history as from the trailblazing cultural theory authored in this technology-saturated age. Mixing conventional painting genres—portraiture, landscape and still-life—with prop-like mechanical supports, Cherry’s oeuvre re-examines notions of the self and the body, especially as they are entities co-created by the individual, society and technology.
A solo exhibition at Providence College Galleries, Caitlin Cherry’s Dirtypower showcases an installation of sculptural paintings that merge two of the artist’s recent interests: imagery warped by Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitor technology, and the representation of black female bodies in the media. Using figurative painting to portray black women in Ivy League collegiate gear, Cherry’s paintings are rendered and wall-mounted on metal swivel arms to look like flat-screen televisions. To reposition the outmoded idea of the paintings as a window to literal and figurative worlds, each artwork instead proposes painting as a screen—an addictively interactive and luminous surface that is central to everyday life while also mediating it—that won’t let the viewer look away. To mimic the solarized imagery of a tilted or malfunctioning LCD screen, Cherry paints with inverted kaleidoscopic color palettes. She distorts her female subjects to suggest the classist, racist and sexist stereotypes that might be implied by exaggerated facial features and revealing fashion. Combined with serious attitude and humor, however, the depicted women ooze a knowing awareness and rejection of objectification. The result is a mesmerizing series of portraits of an array of characters who tell stories of their own but also of their artist-author. They convey Cherry’s rejection of an artist’s obligation to combat stereotypes. Her artwork as the primary method, she instead pursues cultural reclamation and the eradication of gender, all the while working toward the creation of infinite possibilities for future feminists.
Dirtypower is organized by Jamilee Lacy, PC–G Director and Curator. The exhibition, conjunctive programmingand fully-illustrated publication (forthcoming February 2019) is generously co-supported by Providence College’s Black Studies Program, Center @ Moore Hall, Department of Art & Art History and Women’s Studies Program. Additional funding is provided by The Reilly Gallery Fund, a gift of the late Robert F. Reilly (PC ’42).
Caitlin Cherry lives and works in Brooklyn. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Anderson Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, University Museum of Contemporary Art at University of Massachusetts in Amherst and The Brooklyn Art Museum. In 2019, she will present a solo show at Luce Gallery in Turin, Italy. She has also recently exhibited work as part of significant New York group exhibitions, including A Wild Ass Beyond: ApocalypseRN at Performance Space, Punch curated by Nina Chanel Abney at Jeffrey Deitch, Touchstone at American Medium and The Sun is Gone but We Have the Light at Gawin Brown Enterprise. Cherry is a recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Fellowship Residency and Leonore Annenberg Fellowship, among other awards and honors. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently Visiting Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.