It comes with no surprise to say that mid-20th century American women, in their role as housewives and mothers, were encouraged to take pride in their cooking and baking skills as they devoted their time and energy to their husbands and children. Marketing companies often showed smiling women baking cakes and looking happy and content to be doing that and nothing else. Instant cake mixes were all the rage and from their invention in the Depression to their postwar popularity, they became an expression of American history, ingenuity, and a time-saving alternative for the typical American housewife.  

 

In the exhibition, Fresh out of the Oven, a room of revolving cakes invites us to re-examine this iconic form associated with women.  For the artist, who admits making hundreds of boxed cakes over the years while juggling career and family, the notion of repeating this form with materials other than batter and frosting alters our perception.  As the cakes twirl around in unison, one can sense an undercurrent of the feminine condition that the artist is clearly familiar with. The walls further accentuate women’s typecast with digital-photo and material collages. 

 

Photo credit: Shanti Adames 

Blue, 2016 

RPM Project

(3) 7' x 12' screens with three-channel video

 

Since the 1950’s, prosperity and the rise of capitalism created a lifestyle of consumerism, where browsing and purchasing material things evolved into a consumer culture. This popular ritual of shopping for a better life shaped our identity as a society.  Many artists reacted to this consumer driven way of life, revealing in their work that the relationship between shopper and material object is more of an obsession than pastime. There are visible strains of this complicated relationship in the commonly known genre, called Pop Art.

 

In this three-channel video, the art of consumption is examined through the main character in Blue.  She approaches her house anxious to open her newly purchased piece, and upon entering through the front door, the viewer also crosses the threshold of her psyche. Her environment suddenly shifts from ecstatic to ominous, and as she navigates through the maze of her interior, her world literally comes crashing down around her.  In her subsequent escape we place her in nature, appearing larger than life, alluding to second chances and what is innately meaningful in our humanness.

 

 

Erased In The Wash - Patricia Schnall Gutierrez
00:00 / 00:00

Erased In The Wash, 14' x 14' x 3'  2013

Washing machine hose, brass fittings, audio

In “Erased in the Wash”, the task of doing laundry is once again referenced to as in many other works by the artist;  “The Package Project” (2010) “2407- The House Inside My Head” (2011, RPM Project collaborative) and “Inheritance”(2013), and is yet another catharsis of personal memories.   Its inspiration was based on a simple but tragic story about one woman’s bedroom encounter that she tries to forget as she launders the sheets, Sounds of whispers, water and audio abstractions appear to escape from brass fittings as they cascade through the hoses and invite the viewer to “come closer” to listen.

Anne-Marie Was Here... 2013

RPM Project

Multimedia installation

 

Inspired by an article written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”, RPM Project literally brings to the table the ongoing conversation between women and what they contend with when they juggle their personal and professional lives.

 

Presented in a domestic setting, a dining table is set with decadent cakes, dishes, teacups and six dressed chairs with video monitors as talking heads.  Each chair represents a woman and her choices, justifications, and dilemmas concerning family and professional life. One chair is left empty for the viewer to sit and participate in this interactive aural collage.  An iPad replaces a plate setting so that the guest can leave their own opinion in a virtual community.

 

2407 The House Inside My Head , 2011

RPM Project

Multimedia installation 

 

Folding laundry is a repetitive and constant chore throughout the timeline of our lives. This multimedia installation transforms this domestic ritual from the mundane to the ethereal transforming thoughts that surface during these quiet moments into a meditational trance. 

 

Presented as the iconic white house, plumes of hair burst from the attic vent and find its way to the front door, inviting the viewer to experience this multi-sensory installation, with a seven segment video, using the ritual of folding laundry as an ethereal expression of the ordinary with layers of consciousness come to the surface in this universal act.

Sound of the Womb, 2012

Stiffened burlap sacks, wooden drain, audio

5’ x 14’x 1’

The female formed sacks are reduced to primordial vessels whose primary purpose is that of reproduction. The sounds of dripping fluids that flow through the wooden drain below refer to menstruation and childbirth.