Reynolds chose works by Alex Podesta, Nina Schwanse and Monica Zeringue on their works’ thematic and visual strengths.
Monica Zeringue’s entire body of work within the show, five astoundingly intricate works in graphite pencil, four on primed linen and one on paper, boldly and successfully broaches the subject of female identity. Zeringue’s approach is beautifully communicated and readily relatable from a female standpoint. The artist takes on characters from Greek mythology like Rhea Silvia, Ophelia and Hercules as a means of transcending the gender constraints inherent in myth.
Zeringue fearlessly depicts her own body distorted into the nursing canine in terms of nursing capability only. “She Wolf” offers the sacrificial hare as she ambulates on all fours, possessing three extra sets of breasts swollen with milk. Charged with the tasks of hunting, feeding her young, the work’s subject bears tender flesh instead of thick fur, short human forearms and oversized human breasts. Regardless of her inadequacies, our heroine surmounts inconceivable challenges. This is interesting in itself, until the viewer realizes further that Zeringue also presents her nakedness, her vulnerabilities in the appraising public eye. The feminist commentary is somewhat absent. Zeringue instead chooses to discreetly and artfully frame the challenges with an expert hand.
Zeringue’s “Unbecoming ” discusses the tedious physical and emotional pain of conforming to current standards of beauty. The fearful prospect of the haircut is depicted, performed by the artist’s mother with pruning shears. The specter of a well-pruned and fecund rose bush looms in the background, the entire work floating on a blank backdrop. Zeringue addresses themes throughout the show dealing with the beholden nature of femininity, especially in relation to hair, an important link to Podesta’s work in “Tanner II” which is distinctively masculine in nature.