Michelangelo, Degas, Rodin, and Picasso. These are the names of some of the most famous painters throughout history. Their work is revered and studied time and time again by people all over the world. While these artists all come from different periods and create art using different techniques and mediums, they do have one thing in common. They are all men. The world of art is filled with the names of famous men. And even on a smaller scale, many lesser-known artists are men. This is not to say that there aren’t great women artists, because there are! Georgia O’Keefe, Mary Cassat, and Frieda Khalo are just a few. However, as in many things, women are often underrepresented.
That’s why it is so great to see the Marblehead Arts Association showcasing the art of three talented and powerful women in their solo shows this Spring. From Niki Farrell’s vibrant landscapes and Alicia Cohen’s amazingly realistic acrylic paintings, to Susan Schrader’s captivating and stylistic portraits, the women in the MAA exhibits are each unique and talented, and demonstrate art worthy of recognition.
Niki Farrell’s art catches the viewer by surprise. From the moment a visitor walks into the gallery they are hit with shocking hues of yellow, red, and green. Farrell’s work centers mostly around landscapes that range from a busy restaurant deck to a peaceful French street. However, these scenes are not merely paintings, but moments and memories that seem to jump off the canvas. The bright colors and deliberate brush strokes give each painting a sense of movement and life that immerses the viewer. This technique is purposeful, as Farrell explains in her artist statement, “In my painting, not only am I depicting a sense of felicity, but I am also tangibly capturing an ever-fleeting moment of my life” And at such a young age, it is truly impressive that Farrell is able to convey the feel and energy of the scenes in art that packs a punch.
Alicia Cohen loves animals. Her exhibit at the MAA is filled with paintings of pets. However, these portraits aren’t merely depictions of everyday animals. Using whimsical backgrounds, amusing props, and a classical painting technique, Cohen is able to create realistic artwork full of wit and charm. As she explains in her artist statement, “Nothing is more amusing to me than making references to historic paintings in the details of a pet portrait.” One example she cites is her painting entitled “King Buddy” features her own cat clothed in robes from a classic Ingres portrait of Napoleon. This blend of past, present, and pet can be seen in her other portraits, which include a dog in a Dodger’s uniform, and other fun subjects. Cohen’s art is truly remarkable, as she shows off her ability to to create realistic and really amusing art.
Susan Schrader’s pieces are definitely far from conventional. Whereas Cohen and Farrell’s paintings are both traditional and reminiscent of past art periods, Schrader’s art is colorful and contemporary. Her abstract figures float across the canvas with unbelievably long legs, vibrant ensembles, and incredible detail. For Schrader, her art is more about the movement of her characters and “How they themselves interact with each other upon the surface of my canvas.” These interactions are meant to relate to the viewer, and cause them to ponder their own feelings and interactions with others. The characters on the canvas are quirky and eccentric, which allows her to convey movement in her pieces. Her artwork unique art is unlike any other displayed at the MAA, and is very different from most other styles. Yet it is this uniqueness that makes the art so special, and allows for readers to really connect with it.
While it is great to recount the different exhibits and artists at the MAA, that is not what this blog is about. This post is meant to highlight women artists, their contributions, and their talent. Yet, it is their differences and unique styles that make each one of their exhibits so powerful. In these three women, three completely distinct art forms are represented. Colorful, almost impressionist-like landscapes, realistic yet whimsical portraits, and abstract and meaningful art. These women, in their solo exhibits, s howcase the wide range and adaptability of art. Farrell, Cohen, and Schrader, have all adapted and perfected their own styles and translated that on to canvas for the public to enjoy. And while each exhibit is different, they are equally as powerful and impressive. In the grand scheme of history, the artistic talent of women may have been overlooked; but these three women are a testament to the unbelievable ability, creativity, and flexibility that female artists have to offer, and that they will offer, in the years to come.
This post was written by Lily Dolin, MAA intern