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January 22, 2014

Unruly: An Artistic Affront, in the Best Way Possible

Written by  Amber Garza
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Antonia Wright "I Scream Therefore I Exist" Antonia Wright "I Scream Therefore I Exist" Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art


Unruly: un • ru • ly

– adjective

1. not submissive or conforming to rule; ungovernable; turbulent; intractable; refractory; lawless

Unruly is a new exhibit at the Wignall Museum at the Rancho Cucamonga Chaffey College campus, showcasing the work of ten deliberately disruptive American female artists. Curator Roman Stollenwerk describes their work, collectively, as “challeng[ing] the parameters of feminine behavior.” The artists’ geographies are as varied as the media in which they work: Nevadan Elizabeth Jackson's election-year street photography project of bound photos shares space with Southern California Jessica Wimbly's collection of mixed media commentary around issues of race and the art world. NY-based Rachel Mason's conceptual performance art is presented on a large screen that emphasizes its disruptiveness: “Wall,” which chronicles her nail-biting free-climb of the side of UCLA's Broad Art building (an act that got her temporarily expelled as an undergraduate). Miamian Antonia Wright's videos of her performance art grace yet another wall of the Wignall.

Stollenwerk's careful curation provides a cosmopolitan and impactful assemblage in the relatively small space. Amy Sarkisian's “fraternal prankster” sculptures, which include one with shoe mirrors, are natural foils to the darker works of Candace Lin in the media of video and vagina dentata-esque silicone. Yoshie Sakai's campy autobiographical soap opera video project, in which she appears to play most of the characters, is housed in a domesticated room of its own within the museum, while LA-based The Miracle Whips' queer femme art-burlesque performances are bawdily screened on a red velvet draped television, framed with gynocentric fill-in-the-blank cards. Fay Ku's Aeon Flux-sinewy subjects, naked but for the impossibly extensive coils of shibari braids encircling and restricting them, present a commentary on the very public relationship between women and their hair. Also working in a graphite and paper medium, Evona Lynae's elegant grotesqueries, in her own words, “fabricate figures in the midst of their transformations.”

Unruly is an artistic affront, in the best way possible, to the notion that “woman” has a narrow, restrictive definition. The works are challenging, bold and even frightening, as works of contemporary art should be.

Amazingly, Unruly is free and open to the public and in our own backyard (no trek to Los Angeles required!), running through March 15 during the museum's open hours (M-Th 10:00am 4:00pm, Sat noon – 4:00pm, closed Friday, Sunday and holidays). This Smithsonian-quality show is not to be missed. It is not for those with delicate sensibilities, but those with a taste for new and exciting art will not be disappointed.

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