featuring Sherri Rogers, Bronwyn Schuster & Mandy Tsung
January 12–28, 2017
In this group exhibition, Strong Female Character, these 3 female artists look at feminine identity, both past and present, as defined within Western culture.
Mandy Tsung‘s work revolves around the female figure. Having grown up surrounded by literature, magazines, and comics that depict captivating women, her impulse is to both emulate and subvert the imagery that informs her view of what it is to be a woman. This picture is made complex and, often, contradictory by the fact that she is of mixed ethnicity. The characters in her paintings are meant to be emotive; to communicate the depths of human experience through gestures and expressions. She was born in Banff, but spent most of her formative years in Calgary and Hong Kong. After completing a BFA in Sculpture at The Alberta College of Art and Design in 2007, she then moved to Vancouver where she now paints full-time. She has exhibited in numerous galleries in North America, Japan, Germany, and Australia.
In this show, Mandy Tsung presents a series of Bitchy Resting Face Portraits. They take their cue from Broken People’s “Bitchy Resting Face” video, which humorously highlights facial biases in our culture. The paintings bring light to female gender stereotypes, specifically that women & people with a feminine appearance are expected to display a smiling, pleasant demeanour to others, and to be cheerfully receptive even when absorbed by important thoughts or tasks. For this project, people were asked to submit photos of themselves in which they have a neutral facial expression that could be misinterpreted as anything from sullen to contemptuous.
Sherri Rogers is an artist based in Vancouver BC, and by day she works as a digital artist for visual effects in live action and animated movies. Her playful and narrative style has coupled with her study of film in this series, reflecting on how women contribute to the history and culture of storytelling in movies. Sherri works out of her east side art studio, William Clark Studios.
“Strong Female Character” is a film and TV trope for women who are represented in a literal or one-dimensional way — where a token woman is physically strong or powerful. Girls with guns, the warrior, the ass kicking action heroine are classic examples but machismo is not the only interpretation of the word “strong.” The women Sherri has chosen for her series of paintings are strongly written and represented as complex characters who have integral roles in the plot apart from their male counterparts. They are self actualized, independent and bonded in friendship with other women. These paintings capture movie moments with female characters who pass the Bechdel test:
- The movie has to have at least two women in it,
- who talk to each other,
- about something besides a man.
Her paintings are 24×12 inches, matching the ratio of film. The colours are bold and simplified, similar to Mondo style movie posters. Like a film critic would use writing to explore themes in our culture, Sherri chooses frames of iconic movies to study a film director’s portrayal of emotion, friendship and narrative, capturing these moments in paint.
Bronwyn Schuster is an artist originally from the prairies of Canada, though she currently resides in Vancouver, BC. After traveling Canada and Scandinavia extensively, Bronwyn discovered a love the kind of creativity that is fostered in cold wet towns by the oceans. Her stubbornness to explore art through traditional media was fostered in her year studying at The Swedish Academy of Realist Art in Sweden. Her prominent work tends to examine stories centred around life, death and the journey. Three aspects often found in the fairytale formula.
The series that Bronwyn has been working on for “Strong Female Character” explores what femininity looks like through the lens of archetypes in myths and legends. Who are the Baba Yagas, the werewolves and forest creatures. The helpers and the heroes? Using ink and gold leaf, she mimics traditional illustration from fairytale books, but uses personal experiences and favourite stories from the models to display a darker and more adult content in the images.