Femmes are front, center, and all around in Los Angeles’ Architecture and Design museum’s third installation of its summer series, Come In! Usually a fun-filled event, this year’s exhibition strikes a chord in an industry often criticized for not being more gender equal.
Issue aside, this year’s Come In! Les Femmes exhibit offers a look into the unique perspective of 25 women from varied art and design disciplines. As expected, in dealing with gender, one can’t escape the occasional critique of women’s roles in society and this exhibition is no exception. By juxtaposing blissful bridal images with symbols of domestic drudgery like irons and cookware, graphic designer Petrula Vrontikis asks us to contemplate the thin line that divides princess from domestic peasant in what she calls, “Brides = Maids.” Meanwhile, rather than using a standard canopy, installation artist Amy Jean Boebel fashioned a charcoal aluminum wire mesh into a giant frilly top in “Noesis.” Inside, a television set broadcasts the changing roles of women through the years. Apparel was also architect Doris Sung’s starting point. Inspired by age-old corsets, Sung creates a sculpture made out of thermobimetal that contracts and expands according to ambient heat.
Other artists chose to co-opt traditional women’s implements, turning them toward new uses. Tanya Aguiniga, known more for her rope necklaces and textiles, surprises with a beautiful surface treatment inspired by cake decorating. Soft peaks and swirls dyed in subtle colors twirl and churn on an otherwise boring wall. While Aguiniga wields the cake decorator, Gwen Samuels takes to needle and thread, stitching together digital images of little cities, appropriately called “Metropolis.”
Still others took an environmental stance. A strange machine of tubes, vacuums, and pink and blue liquid mysteriously stands on the far end, blurring the line between organic and man-made. A work of Alison Petty Ragguette, it looks almost human one minute, mechanical the next. Minarc‘s entry was more straightforward. Fashioning a waterfall of water bottles, the exhibition sheds light on humanity’s continual disruption of nature’s water cycles.
Not everyone was quite so serious. Design, Bitches, in collaboration with Meiko Takechi Arquillos, designed a photo booth complete with props to recreate design’s most iconic shots. Think Eameses on a motorcycle.
Paper becomes play object in artist Rebecca Niederlander‘s “The Devil’s Workshop.” Niederlander asks visitors to take part in some dastardly deed by adding to an ever-growing papercut installation that crawls from the wall to the ceiling.
While we’re being tempted to add to the chaos, Jennifer Wolf quite literally waves a pink flag. Wolf hung huge textiles dyed red and pink from cochineal extract attached them to the museum’s posts and turned the small Wilshire space into a small ship ready to set sail for destinations unknown.
Much like the effect of Wolf’s installation, this year’s Come In! is a tour de femme of discovery. A walk around the gallery will surely get you wondering and pondering, “What will these women think of next?”
As part of its annual exhibition, A+D, the LA Forum, and the Association for Women in Architecture + Design are hosting a Pecha Kucha event celebrating women architects, designers, and artists in Los Angeles. Femmes Fatales VI will be held on July 26, 2012 at the A+D Museum. Details here.
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