Studio Visit: Liza LaBarge at UB
04/09/2014 5 Comments
Liza LaBarge is a second year MFA student at the University of Buffalo. She’s just about to graduate and already has a few gallery exhibitions set up.
When I visited her studio, every surface, including most of the floor was covered by the large charcoal drawings she’s made over the past two years. I was surprised to encounter a young artist’s work so thoroughly engaged with historical art.
Focusing on narratives of femininity in art, LaBarge switches out the mythic characters of Renaissance and Baroque narratives and replaces them with contemporary figures or contexts. In one work, the Virgin Birth takes place by Caesarean section and angelic nurses preform the operation. In another, plastic hospital tubing entangles the Holy Family.
Reflecting contemporary debates about the origin of Adam and Eve as prehistoric apes, LaBarge remakes the first humans in a marvelously strange drawing. Acting like monkeys, LaBarge’s Eve chomps indelicately on bananas while Adam picks fleas from her hair.
Women’s close relationship with jewelry is another of LaBarge’s favorite themes. Strands of old-fashioned family jewels weigh small children down, while young women hungerly stuff strands of diamonds and pearls into their mouths or wear them across their faces as masks.
I find LaBarge’s dissonant refashioning of femininity refreshing. It is a pleasure to see a young artist tackling this well trodden feminist territory in new ways.