Friday, September 21, 2018

Match of the Matriarchs


The Cephalopods

Match of the Matriarchs: Donna Dodson
October 3 - November 4, 2018 at the Boston Sculptors Gallery

Featuring guest artists Daniel Meirom, Jennifer Shahade & Kledia Spiro

First Friday Reception: October 5, 5-8pm
7pm "Battle of the Beasts" performance by Jennifer Shahade & Kledia Spiro

Second Sunday Concert: October 14, 4-6pm featuring Mazumal Duo

Reception and Artist Talks: Saturday, October 20, 3-5pm with Eric Sealine

First Friday Closing Reception: November 2, 5-8pm
7pm "Battle of the Beasts, Revisited" performance by Kledia Spiro


Boston Sculptors Gallery presents Match of the Matriarchs, Donna Dodson’s latest series of mysterious animal-human hybrid wood sculptures, on display October 3 through November 4, 2018. Featuring a sculpture group configured as a chess set, Dodson’s increasingly well-known female forms are carved with humor, sensitivity, and attention to the interplay of woodgrain and color.

Dodson cites the genesis of her chess set in her solo show at New Bedford Art Museum in 2016. She explained, “I created five ‘mermaids’ inspired by the history of ship prow carvings. I wanted to do more with the series, so I set myself the challenge of making an entire chess set.” This idea allowed her to build on the concept of sculptures that interact directly with each other, while reflecting on the interactions among species that have nothing to do with us humans.

Dodson delved into natural history books such as Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods by Danna Staff, Octopus: A by Sy Montgomery, and Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith. “The existence of squid was discovered due to the scars on the sides of whales,” Dodson noted. “This deep sea battle between the squid and the whale led me to create a team of cephalopods—octopus, squid and cuttlefish—battling against the cetaceans—orca, narwhal and elephant seal.”

​To learn about the game of chess, Dodson researched Birth of the Chess Queen: A History by Marilyn Yalom and Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport by Jennifer Shahade.
“The original chess set was composed of King, Vizier/General, and other male military figures,” Dodson explained. “The queen came onto the board around the same time that many powerful queens reigned in England, Russia and Spain.” Dodson reflected on that change, deciding, “My set is maternal—I am thinking about family matriarchies, the realm of power in women's lives, how women wield power and the bonds between women in families.”

The Cetaceans

Daniel Meirom is an Israeli-American filmmaker, visual artist, and new media producer. His projects include XChess, a web TV show about chess, Misery Loves Comedy, a pilot on stand-up comedians, and Nowhere Else, a TV drama for Israeli TV. His most recent film, Camden/Love/Hate tells the story of Camden, NJ through at risk high school students. He has exhibited in New York City, Saint Louis, and most recently, at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburgh, FL. For his Boston debut, Meirom collaborated with Jennifer Shahade to create new work.

Naked Chess

Jennifer Shahade is a two-time U.S. Women's Chess Champion, poker player, commentator and writer. She wrote Chess Bitch and Play Like a Girl, and co-authored Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess and Sinquefield Cup: Celebrating Five Years. Shahade is Senior Editor at uschess.org, MindSports Ambassador for PokerStars, and a board member of the World Chess Hall of Fame. In Match of the Matriarchs, Shahade will exhibit videos, photographs, and an interactive chessboard developed in collaboration with Daniel Meirom and Donna Dodson. Based on a 16th century misogynist chessboard created by a disgruntled gentleman when the Queen first appeared in the game, the new board uses misogynist language from online chess forums and social media, and invites audience engagement. Shahade will challenge an opponent to a chess match Friday, October 5 in a performance piece with Kledia Spiro


Not Particularly Beautiful

Kledia Spiro creates videos, performances, installations, and paintings. Born in Albania, Kledia was a member of an Olympic weightlifting team. She uses weightlifting as a symbol of survival, empowerment, celebration, and as a vehicle for discussing women’s roles in society, immigration, and times of war.  Spiro has exhibited nationally, most notably at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Queens Museum, NY; SAIC Sullivan Galleries, Chicago; Museum of Art, University of New Hampshire; and the ProArts Gallery in Oakland, CA. Her videos and photographs will be exhibited in Match of the Matriarchs. She will perform with Jennifer Shahade on Friday, October 5 at 7pm in “Battle of the Beasts” and again at the closing reception on Friday, November 2 at 7pm in “Battle of the Beasts, Revisited.”


Battle of the Beasts
Update: ArtYOP! covered this story, "Donna Dodson and the Match of the Matriarchs" on July 28, 2018. Sampan covered this story,"Match of the Matriarchs: Donna Dodson Oct. 3rd to Nov. 4th" on Sept 6, 2018. WBUR- The ARTery featured this story " 8 Feminist Art Shows to Check Out in New England this Fall" on September 28, 2018. US Chess Federation featured this story, "Women in Chess Events and Tournaments" on October 1, 2018. New England Diary covered this story, "Matriarchal is Mass. Gallery" on October 23, 2018. Sampan featured this story "Match of the Matriarchs Exhibition and Performance Nov 2nd" on October 23, 2018. Chessbase.com covered this story, "Match of the Matriarchs in Boston through Nov. 4th" on October 25, 2018 and the Denver Chess Club re-posted the article in their Chess news Feed.. Michael Charney captured a live chess game with his amazing photos on dropbox. Read a curatorial statement by me on the Boston Sculptors Gallery blog.