Saturday, May 29, 2021

Amazons Among Us

Amazons Among Us by Donna Dodson May 5th-June 6th 2021

Featuring guest artists Trina Baker & Kledia Spiro and poet Melchor Hall

Opening Night Artist Talks with Donna Dodson, Trina Baker and Kledia Spiro. Watch a video of this event (recorded May 5th)

May 7th: First Friday opening reception 5-8:30p with a performance @ 8p “I should have stuck to ballet” with Kledia Spiro and Janelle Gilchrist Dance Troupe Watch a recording of this event.

Gallery talk by Donna Dodson and Poetry Reading of K. Melchor Quick Hall's "Four Poems." Watch a video of this event (recorded May 15th)

June 4th: First Friday closing reception 5-8:30p with a performance @ 8:45p “She’s a Beast” with Kledia Spiro and Janelle Gilchrist Dance Troupe Watch a recording of this event

Informal meet and greet with the artists: Sundays May 9th,16th and 23rd, 11a-5p

2020 felt almost apocalyptic, rife with divisive politics, racial unrest and a Pandemic that took over half a million American lives. Yet, on the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, history was made when a woman was elected Vice President, ushering in an era of hope as more women rise to take leadership roles in all fields. It is fitting that Wonder Woman celebrates her 80th year as America’s most famous heroine in 2021. The world needs heroines now, and Dodson creates them for this exhibition.

In her new series of wood sculptures, Dodson re-imagines Albrecht Durer’s “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” as Amazon warriors. She uses the traditional medium of woodcarving to suggest that these women have always been among us, but that gender misconceptions have prevented us from recognizing them. Drawing inspiration from legendary warrior women such as the ancient Amazons of the steppes, the Dahomey of West Africa and the Rani of Jhansi, Dodson’s amazons portray courage, strength and grit. Dodson chose to collaborate with artists Trina Baker and Kledia Spiro, and poet Melchor Hall, because of their commitment to social justice. Dodson, Baker, Hall and Spiro are united in their quests to create a new iconography of female empowerment.

In Dodson’s collaboration with Baker, whose work deals with sexual assault and domestic violence, the artists translate Dodson’s Amazon warrior sculptures into three-dimensional digital characters and create a short animation demonstrating their superhero qualities. To continue this project, Dodson has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award in the Visual Arts for the 2021-2022 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. In Vienna Austria, Dodson will be an artist in residence at Tricky Women, the world’s only digital animation festival for women artists, to write the storyboard and script. Watch a snippet of the animation “Alpha Female Embodies Wonder Woman” here.

Spiro feels a deep connection to the fictional character Xena, the Warrior Princess. For this exhibition, she premieres sculptures, photographs, and a two-channel video in honor of Xena. Audience members will have the opportunity to wear Spiro’s interactive sculpture. Spiro wonders whether we can become our own superheroes, particularly as “girls”. Can we unchain women from society’s expectations of mothers, good house wives, eroticized objects, and irrational emotional beings?

Four Poems

by K. Melchor Quick Hall

written for mothers, daughters, wives, and lady lovers

especially intersex, trans, masculine, and chosen family

in harmony with animals, plants, natural elements, and wilderness

for girls and women who are/were boyish or manly

who have been made feminine in the face of myopic visions

we need your queer courage and strength

to struggle together in this fight that requires a womanish touch

to disrupt capitalist-driven inequitably uneven apocalypse

and to aim for fertile feral feminist futures


Hall responds to Dodson’s sculptures and themes of super-heroism and able-bodied-ness with several prose poems on display as part of the exhibition. Hall’s poems address the gendered contrasts of strength and weaknesses, youthfulness and aging as well as the protection of self and others in relationships. Read the full text of Hall’s Four Poems here.

This exhibition offers the audience inspiring words and images of women to uplift and inspire the amazons among us who have yet to discover their own superpowers.



May 20th @ 7pm: A Virtual Conversation with Donna Dodson, Trina Baker, Kledia Spiro and Melchor Hall moderated by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein on the Future of the Feminist Imagination Watch a recording of this event

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
 is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy and core faculty in women’s and gender studies at the University of New Hampshire. She is also a columnist for New Scientist and Physics World. Her research in theoretical physics focuses on cosmology, neutron stars, and dark matter. She also does research in Black feminist science, technology, and society studies. Nature recognized her as one of 10 people who shaped science in 2020, and Essence magazine has recognized her as one of “15 Black Women Who Are Paving the Way in STEM and Breaking Barriers.” A cofounder of Particles for Justice, she received the 2017 LGBT+ Physicists Acknowledgement of Excellence Award for her contributions to improving conditions for marginalized people in physics and the 2021 American Physical Society Edward A. Bouchet Award for her contributions to particle cosmology. Originally from East L.A., she divides her time between the New Hampshire Seacoast and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her first book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, (2021) is published by Bold Type Books.

Trina Baker has shown her paintings, drawings, and artist books nationally and internationally in galleries and corporate collections. Baker’s animations have received numerous awards including a Pixie, which honors outstanding work in Motion Graphics, Visual Effects and Animation and two International CINDY (Cinema in Industry) awards.  Her work tackles social justice issues such as  domestic violence and sexual assault.  Trina currently Chairs the Animation Department at Lesley Art + Design.

Donna Dodson is a Visiting Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center and a member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery. She has complete numerous international residencies and her work is in many private and public collections. Her “Seagull Cinderella” sculpture attracted international media attention. Donna will be a Fulbright US Scholar working as an artist in residence at Tricky Women in Vienna Austria in 2022. Dodson is a graduate of Wellesley College. Her forthcoming paper “What do we call courageous women” will be presented at the Society for Classical Studies annual meeting in 2022.

K. Melchor Quick Hall, PhD., is a Black feminist scholar-activist crossing disciplinary and national borders. Dr. Hall is the author of Naming a Transnational Black Feminist Framework: Writing in Darkness and co-editor of Mapping Gendered Ecologies: Engaging with and beyond Ecowomanism and Ecofeminism with Gwyn Kirk. Framing Reproductive (In)Justice: A Picture Perfect Gruesome Negress Hurt-storyher poem about Black mothers and their children was published in MoMA Magazine.

Kledia Spiro creates videos, performances, installations, and paintings. Born in Albania, she was a member of an Olympic weightlifting team. Kledia uses weightlifting as a vehicle for discussing women’s roles in society, immigration, and war. Spiro has exhibited nationally 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.

Donna Dodson: Amazons Among Us runs concurrently with Wood stone poem Meditations on The Natural by Andy Moerlein. All events are free and open to the public following COVID -19 protocols.  


Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center Spring 2021 Lecture:
Amazons – Non-Western Perspectives and Contemporary Interpretations in Art

Thursday April 27, 2021, 5-6:30 p.m.

The Amazons of Greek lore have fascinated the imagination of Western audiences for thousands of years.  Lesser known in the West are the stories of the historical women upon whom the legend of the Amazons are based, such as Tomyris, the warrior queen of the nomadic Central Asian tribe of the Massagetae.   In this wide-ranging lecture, Walter Penrose, Jr. will discuss the ethnic variations which allowed women to be fighters in far flung places from ancient Scythia and China to modern Dahomey and India.  Donna Dodson will then discuss how warrior women from these non-Western cultures have inspired her most recent artistic endeavor in which she translates Albrecht Durer’s The Four Horsemen, from the Apocalypse Series, into sculpted “Amazon” women warriors.

Co-Presenters Walter D. Penrose Jr, Associate Professor of History at San Diego State University, is the author of Postcolonial Amazons: Female Masculinity and Courage in Ancient Greek and Sanskrit Literature. Donna Dodson, a Scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center, is an award-winning sculptor.


Women Warriors: Donna Dodson and Trina Baker in Conversation. A Virtual Lecture series made possible by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Dodson and Baker both take inspiration from civic minded heroines from their own families: Dodson’s great Aunt, an officer in the WACs, and Baker’s grandmother, who served four terms in the Connecticut state legislature.

Women Warriors: A Civic Duty, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Sudbury with generous support provided by the Sudbury Cultural Council, Sunday May 2nd @ 2pm. Watch a recording of this event.

Women Warriors and Social Justice, sponsored by the First Parish Church of Stow and Acton with generous support provided by the Stow Cultural Council and the Acton/Boxborough Cultural Council, Saturday May 8th @ 7:30pm. Watch a recording of this event.

Women Warriors and Artistic Collaboration, sponsored by Artspace Maynard with generous support provided by the Maynard Cultural Council, Thursday May 13th @ 7pm.  Watch a recording of this event.

Update: Charles Giuliano, Editor of Berkshire Fine Arts, posted a preview of this show on April 19, 2021 "Amazons Among Us by Donna Dodson." B. Amore posted an advance review of this show on Art New England, May 1st, "Amazons Among Us: Sculpture by Donna Dodson." Magdiela Matta highlighted "Amazons Among Us" on WBUR's 5 Things to do this Weekend on May 6, 2021. James Foritano reviewed this show in depth on May 7, 2021 for Artscope Magazine, DONNA DODSON’S AMAZONS AMONG US & ANDY MOERLEIN’S WOOD STONE POEM AT BOSTON SCULPTORS GALLERY. Karen Campbell highlighted Kledia Spiro's performance "I Should Have Stuck to Ballet" featuring the Janelle Gilchrist Dance Troupe and our opening reception for Amazons Among Us in the Boston Globe on May 7, 2021. Cate McQuaid featured this exhibition in her gallery reviews on Tuesday May 25th in the Boston Globe "Artists call upon the ancients at Boston Sculptors Gallery." Tessa Venell, Office of the Vice Provost for Research, published an in depth article on my forthcoming Fulbright project on June 10, 2021, "Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center Announces Fulbright Award for 2021-2022." Josh Idaszak, Office of Communications & Public Affairs at Wellesley College, published a profile of my upcoming Fulbright project along with other alums from my alma mater, on August 17, 2021, "Wellesley’s 2021-22 Fulbrights Prepare to Launch into the World."

Friday, May 28, 2021

Four Poems by K. Melchor Quick Hall

Four Poems

by K. Melchor Quick Hall

written for mothers, daughters, wives, and lady lovers

especially intersex, trans, masculine, and chosen family

in harmony with animals, plants, natural elements, and wilderness

for girls and women who are/were boyish or manly

who have been made feminine in the face of myopic visions

we need your queer courage and strength

to struggle together in this fight that requires a womanish touch

to disrupt capitalist-driven inequitably uneven apocalypse

and to aim for fertile feral feminist futures


Alpha Female by Donna Dodson

1.       Alpha

Strong Women.

leagues of auxiliary essential workers

wearing practical shoes

long days, muscular legs

strong and feminine

warrior and princess

civility in civics

patriotically underpaid

Sculpt Resistance.

nursing nations

refusing milking

chest plates

breast aches

women’s stance

looking toward horizons

insisting on humanity

Animate History.

part eagle, part cow

eating last

feeding others

body foraging

feeding bodies

making sustenance, taking substance

markings of a warrior goddess

Perform Futures.

performing politeness

serving country

imagining non-country

bird’s view of borders

pacifist’s view of conflict

embracing animality

embodying an alternative


L to R: Black Panther and Cybele by Donna Dodson


2a. Black Panther

Strong Women.

women warriors

resting on thrones

galvanizing troops

afros puffed

activism righteous

seated on buses

weary and woke

Sculpt Resistance.

wheelchairs

sitting short and strong

weakness misperceived

aged wisdom

connecting women’s bodies

naming lesbianism

sharing humanity

Animate History.

part panther

also black-coated leopards

also central american jaguars

part comic, part savior

archival margins

dahomey women warriors

re-captured in capitalist cinema

Perform Futures.

performing sankofa

recapturing ten-point platforms

examining archived throne photos

a summer uprising

an era of good trouble

disproportionate harm

radical care and love futures


L to R: Black Panther and Cybele by Donna Dodson

2b. Cybele

Strong Women.

mountain goddess

feral feline companion

crazy cat woman

fertile protectress

commanding chariot

spring sacrifices

queer jealous lovers

Sculpt Resistance.

rejecting religion

making pagan rituals

defending nature

like indigenous water warriors

like land defenders

hovering over and rooting in

our inter-being

Animate History.

part mountain, part earth mother

committed to sisterhood

women’s villages

giving birth to women wonders

matriarchal indigeneity

indignant martyrdom

toxic murders

Perform Futures.

pursuing rights of nature

engaging rites of passage

chariot transformed to hoverboard

human view to goddess view

earthbound to universal

embracing our plant side

queering connection


Lakshmibai: The Rani of Jhansi by Donna Dodson

3.       Laxmibai

Strong Women.

queens and goddesses

mutiny leaders

brahman girls

tomboys

martial artists

sword fighters

horse riders

Sculpt Resistance.

resisting bio-nationalism

refusing heir making

adopting boys

or girls that are tomboys

or girls that were once boys

or girls that are also boys

water more fluid than blood

Animate History.

weightlifter and wrestler

raising baby, lifting baby

carrying child, curling child

rejecting family

wrestling with caste

adopting alternatives

biological transgressions

Perform Futures.

performing intersex

gender transcendence

imagining a non-binary world

animal’s view of humanity

not genitals’ view of role

embracing human and plant families

embodying wholeness




4. Feminist STEAM Intersections 

Strong Women.

sculptor-curator-presenter

animator-professor-painter

performer-artist-weightlifter

mathematician-poet-scholar

physicist-author-feminist

intersectional steam

woven futures

queer connections

Sculpt Resistance.

trained but not disciplined

artistic but improperly framed

un-disciplining

re-writing archives

crossing boundaries

ms. behaving

an order for disorder

Animate History.

carving wood

curating collaboration

designing animation

writing words

performing goddess

talking cosmologies

imagining pluriverse

Perform Futures.

embracing chaos

speaking out, sitting in

co-creating transdisciplinary futures

embracing dark matters

feral feminists

rematriating to dust

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Artists call upon the ancients at Boston Sculptors Gallery

 ART REVIEW

Artists call upon the ancients at Boston Sculptors Gallery

By Cate McQuaid Globe Correspondent,Updated May 25, 2021, 12:01 p.m.

Installation view of Donna Dodson's "Amazons Among Us" show at Boston Sculptors Gallery. DONNA DODSON

Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein’s sculptures kindle an ancient reverence for nature. Dodson’s work echoes the sacred totems of societies attuned to the earth’s cycles, threats, and gifts. Moerlein approaches the sublime through sticks and stones. The artists, who are married, collaborate on public art projects as the Myth Makers. They also work individually, and now each has a show at Boston Sculptors Gallery.

The four wooden icons in Dodson’s “Amazons Among Us” nod to Albrecht Dürer’s engraving “The Four Horsemen” from “The Apocalypse” series. She bases these female figures on mythological women warriors in Africa, India, ancient Greece and Rome, and on her own great-aunt Alice, a soldier in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during World War II. They have the heads of beasts and the bodies of sturdy women, inscribed with tattoos with mythic meaning.



Donna Dodson's "Alpha Female," 2020. BRIAN WILSON/COURTESY DONNA DODSON

Unlike Dürer’s threatening quartet, who hurtle toward societal destruction, these figures are rock steady and proud. They hold the space for work about women warriors by other artists Dodson has invited. It’s like a chapel dedicated to ferocious protection and love.

Moerlein also welcomes other artists into dialogue with the works in his show — poems, art, and bonsai that reflect his questions about how to partner with the earth. His pieces, large and small, say so much on their own.


Andy Moerlein's "Elegy for the Earth, 2021. BRIAN WILSON/COURTESY ANDY MOERLEIN

He was inspired by the ancient Chinese practice of placing a stone on a pedestal for contemplation. In addition to rocky shapes he fashions himself, he showcases wood, calling to mind the strict yet wild formality of a bonsai garden. In “Elegy for the Earth” a stone form painted audacious peach flies cloudlike above a trio of blue-painted branches that rise and arc as if wind-whipped.

Moerlein sets a gorgeous chunk of spalted rock maple on a painted plywood base, creating tension in “Seeking Vein — Finding Heart.” Deliciously twisty and rutted, both read like mountain landscapes. The maple is natural and unpainted; the plywood is engineered and covered in red, green, and yellow. Yet one mirrors the other. As all Moerlein’s works do, it reminds viewers that we are one with and reflect the natural world. Whether we like it or not.



Andy Moerlein's "Seeking Vein – Finding Heart," 2021. BRIAN WILSON/COURTESY ANDY MOERLEIN

DONNA DODSON: AMAZONS AMONG US

ANDY MOERLEIN: WOOD STONE POEM

At Boston Sculptors Gallery, 486 Harrison Ave., through June 6. 617-482-7781, www.bostonsculptors.com


Cate McQuaid can be reached at catemcquaid@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.

 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Amazons Among Us: Sculpture by Donna Dodson


 Amazons Among Us: Sculpture by Donna Dodson

Boston Sculptors Gallery • Boston, MA • bostonsculptors.com • May 5–June 6, 2021

In this time of pandemic, there is a new recognition of the complex balancing act that is the reality of many women. On the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, Donna Dodson’s striking exhibit, Amazons Among Us at Boston Sculptors Gallery, creates mythic figures that personify both historic and modern-day roles for women. The combination of ferocity and womanliness is a common theme. These women are not pushovers.

All sculptures are carved in wood, a relative rarity in contemporary art. They are circa 40–45″ high. Dodson’s skill is evident—these highly defined forms convey a flow that carries the viewer around the sculpture. Dodson has an intimate knowledge of wood, and the pattern of grain and form are integrated seamlessly into each figure.

Alpha Female, with her eagle head and beak, stands tall before us. Dodson dedicates the sculpture to her great-aunt Alice, who was one of the first 40 women from Illinois to join the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WACS) during WWII. The goddess Athena, wearing her war helmet, is etched in grey-blue on the figure’s stolid calf, and was the symbol that the WACS had emblazoned on their uniforms. These women, symbolized by this warrior-woman figure, showed the world that they could be equally both female and fierce, in defending their country.


Donna Dodson, Lakshmibai: the Rani of Jhansi, 2021, chinese elm, enamel, colored pencils, acrylic, 39″ tall.

One of the most striking sculptures in this new series represents a departure for Dodson. Her women sculptures are usually solitary. In Lakshmibai: the Rani of Jhansi, a young Bengal tiger cub is bound to his mother’s back. She stands strong, with a sword in her arm. The two aspects of the sculpture are striking, the warrior woman and the mother woman—both aspects necessary for survival.

Dodson has chosen to collaborate with animator Trina Baker, performance artist Kledia Spiro, and poet K. Melchor Hall, for their commitment to social justice. Their multi-media presentations on the walls surrounding Dodson’s central installation makes for a full immersion into a contemporary dialogue exploring the role of women. Dodson’s Amazons provide an inspiring catalyst for reflection.

—B. Amore

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

DONNA DODSON’S AMAZONS AMONG US

DONNA DODSON’S AMAZONS AMONG US & ANDY MOERLEIN’S WOOD STONE POEM AT BOSTON SCULPTORS GALLERY

Friday, May 7th, 2021 // Artscope OnlineExhibit OpeningsExhibitsVisual Arts

LEFT: Donna Dodson’s “Amazons Amongst Us”; RIGHT: Andy Moerlein, “Snagged,” 2021, oak, cherry, wire, hooks.

by James Foritano

As we left the two solo shows just opened at Boston Sculptors Gallery, my wife Madeleine exclaimed with an eloquent and breathy sigh: “Whew! What imagination! How are you going to review that?”

Indeed, it is strenuous, albeit delightfully so, to hitch your own imagination to the flights of two sculptors who share a studio and a life in nearby Maynard, Massachusetts. The trick is to husband your strength. Take advantage of pauses, sit, look out the window. Say to your over-heating imagination: “It’s only wood, after all.” Then, plunge in, once again.

Andy Moerlein’s wood is both found and transformed. Since Moerlein was present at the gallery, as he expects to be every Saturday, he mimed for me a trip through local woods, a metaphorical axe over his shoulder, on the lookout for wood with the kind of sinuous life-path he favors. Not just any wood, but wood that bulges and curves with the struggle for life, both sensuous and muscular. No wonder I felt tired just looking on!

But look again, and you see a performance that bids you to pause and appreciate the long length of time spent tapping our earth and our sun for energies. This is wood in its slow grain as well its more performative fast-dancing. And you may, as viewer, be a partner to both rhythms — which you’d better do if you want to last through both solo shows!

Sometimes Andy applies make-up to the performers, though they must first ask for it. Say a coating of glossy paint, or streak of buzzing metallic sheen, which he must apply outdoors and with caution since it vaporizes so easily.

As Moerlein is sitting in the gallery fiddling with his computer, he hears another “ask” coming from a sculpture that isn’t quite finished. These sculptures which seem to have co-evolved out of both Nature’s and Man’s will sure are demanding task masters! Moerlein jumps up to limn with one finger the change the wood is suggesting, firmly. He’s on demand, and appears to love it.

Around a wide corner, which seems more of an epoch than a few steps, is another solo show, Donna Dodson’s “Amazons Among Us,” which leads the viewer to ask him/herself “What are these four statuesque figures, sculpted in wood, asking of me?”

Majestic as well as subtly inviting, to my eyes they seem to be asking to be seen in the round, for all they are. First, for “Athena,” I accessed my Greco-Roman history to recall that I’d seen Athena in marble in the lobby of the Boston Athenaeum. In marble, she seemed assured of her place, even a bit frozen into place, as does happen to revered ancestors.

This “Athena” sculpted out of a log of black walnut in Dodson’s Maynard studio, seemed livelier, plucked from living wood, harboring natural cracks in her statuesque pose, that somehow suggested both fragility and readiness. After all, as goddess of both wisdom and war, Athena, in any form, has a large task to embrace.

Other goddesses, such as Queen Rani of Jhansi stretch our Western imaginations to visit Asia, specifically India, where nearly everyone recognizes Queen Rani and her deeds. As a help to our less tutored imaginations, here, Dodson sculpts “Rani” with her child strapped to her back in a famous escape episode: able warrior as protective mother.

I found action everywhere in Dodson’s figures, especially in the limbs and hands where traditional mallet and chisel did more intimate figuration than power tools are capable of; also in delicately penciled, discretely situated tattoos. And, surprisingly, for me, the views in back of these works are as arresting as the frontal poses of these Amazons, arresting in their grace, as if depth as well as readiness was inherent in every Amazon.

Viewers should be ready for the fact that all of these Amazons are interpreted as lions on two feet, fashionably shod to boot!

From acrobatic curves with magnetic skins to an inward restlessness wrapped in majesty, between “wooden” Amazons and woodsy poems, is there no place for a viewer to look for a pause? Maybe, yes, afterwards.

Also, there are notable collaborations with a suite of artists at this twin solo exhibit of Dodson and Moerlein. Look for a miniature Bonsai tree at the top of the entrance stairs as well as captivating videos and poems on the walls by Dodson’s “Amazons.”

(“Andy Moerlein: wood stone poem” and “Donna Dodson: Amazons Among Us” are on view through June 6 at Boston Sculptors Gallery, 486 Harrison Ave., Boston, Massachusetts. The gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; First Friday receptions will take place on May 7 and June 4 from 5-8:30 p.m. There will also be a series of special events and performances tied to the exhibitions; for details, visit bostonsculptors.com.)