Artist Ingrid V. Wells Explores Absurd Pressures Women Are Forced To Conform To In New Exhibit

​Installation​ ​of​ ​​Little​ ​Beauties​​ ​series,​ ​at​ ​Glass​ ​Rice,​ ​San​ ​Francisco,​ ​2017

Ever since the election of Donald Trump, we have seen numerous people across America rise up, get activated and take a concerted stand against the bigotry, hatred and fear he peddled during his campaign. On our website we have featured various women who are using their platform and their voice to be part of the collective resistance, and clearly it is working, if the results of the November 7 election are anything to go by (where women and minorities won big).

While the ballot box and legislature seats are an important part of the firewall against hate, so is art. In fact, art has always been a powerful commentary about politics throughout history. One artist who uses her work to send powerful messages about what is happening in society is San Francisco-based Ingrid V. Wells.

She has previously contributed work to NYC gallery Untitled Space’s post-election feminist exhibit ‘UPRISE/ANGRY WOMEN’, and now has her own solo exhibit called ‘Spectacle’, on display at the Glass Rice gallery in San Francisco from November 10 to December 16. Bringing her signature aesthetic to this collection, Ingrid continues to investigate the idea of the feminist spectacle, a topic the artist is particularly concerned with.

Wallflower​,​ ​oil​ ​on​ ​canvas​ ​30×40”​ ​2017 | Artist: Ingrid Wells
Photographer: John Janca

“These over-the-top, sparkling works deliver a shockingly accurate commentary on the ridiculous misery that women are forced to endure to achieve equality and respect,” says a press release about the exhibit.

These ideals have come to light in a very disturbing way recently, with a string of news stories exposing sexual assault and harassment toward women in Hollywood as well as Silicon Valley. And of course we can’t go past the regressive, anti-woman executive orders coming from the Trump administration since January 2017 (the “Global Gag Order”, and the rollback of Obamacare’s birth control mandate, most notably).

“In light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and recent attack, yet again, on women’s rights, now is the time for artists to take action. I’ve chosen to respond to this political issue using bold, bright color in my new series, ‘Spectacle’…This new body of work investigates the absurd notion and sad reality of the feminine spectacle using miniature plasticine trinkets, painted as shiny still-lifes and inflated to grand proportions on the canvas,” Ingrid told us in an email.

Artist: Ingrid Wells
Photographer: John Janca

“[They] deliver a feminist message, commenting on the ridiculous pressure women face to remain charming, precious, and small while fighting for equality and respect. My goal is to provide a place of subtle reflection and to, ultimately, dismantle the patriarchy (in the sweetest way possible),” she added.

She will also be presenting a series of 30 smaller works, taking notes from the core themes of the ‘The Stepford Wives’, which can be seen as part of the ‘Spectacle’ exhibit.

“This is a series that speaks to the need for women to actually be treated as people that deserve equal rights, equal healthcare, equal pay and equal representation in political office. No man-splaining, no lip-service, equality now. The paintings are small in size, and many in number to serve as a reminder that voices of underrepresented groups are stronger together. One small voice can soon become a chorus and now is the time to sing,” said Ingrid.

Installation​ ​of​ ​​Little​ ​Beauties​​ ​series,​ ​at​ ​Glass​ ​Rice,​ ​San​ ​Francisco,​ ​2017 | Artist: Ingrid Wells
Photographer: John Janca

Using pageantry, celebrity, fanfare and pop culture as recurring themes, Wells paints a visual cacophony of quaint, girly objects in vibrant, feminine colors. These seemingly innocent and cheerful candy landscapes with titles such as Diamonds and Pearls and Babies, OH MY! and Everything’s Coming Up Roses draw giggles from the audience as they consider the beautiful frivolity before them.

Upon further inspection, however, the miniature plasticine trinkets—painted as shiny still life’s inflated to grand proportions—provoke a bizarre, almost suffocating encounter. As the enlarged, gendered objects dance in a crazed swirl of luscious pink, one begins to realize the more profound, underlying message behind the smiling clouds and happy critters.

Bright​ ​Lights​ ​and​ ​Lollipops​,​ ​oil​ ​on​ ​canvas​ ​32×48”​ ​2016 | Artist: Ingrid Wells
Photographer: John Janca

My gestural approach to painting contemplates the notion of female power as it enters into the discourse of painting. By emphasizing the artificial display of the female personality type with over-the-top, dripping spectacles of paint, these works critique the ridiculous and absurd tradition of the feminine norm. I hope my work can serve as a platform for viewers to engage in the conversation surrounding displays of femininity and how that affects the amount of power and respect we give to individual women,” said Ingrid.

The messages are timely and important, and the medium of art gives viewers and critics a unique way to process what is happening right now in society. It also gives us an even greater appreciation for artists, realizing why it is crucial to support the work of women in this space.

You can read more about ‘Spectacle’ on Artsy.net, and get familiar with the rest of Ingrid’s body of work on her website. If you are in San Francisco from Nov 10- December 16, we recommend checking out ‘Spectacle’ at Glass Rice. And if you live elsewhere, we encourage you to support the work of artists and activists in your community.

Put​ ​On​ ​A​ ​Happy​ ​Face,​​ ​oil​ ​on​ ​canvas​ ​24×36”​ ​2017 | Artist: Ingrid Wells
Photographer: John Janca

 

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