The female body has long served as a muse in the arts, a lens through which the themes, issues and ongoing dialogue of the contemporary collective consciousness can be reflected. The work of James Wolanin and Jane Maxwell addresses this discourse through reflective interpretations of the feminine ideal through context, material and approach. In Wolanin’s work an idealized "snapshot" image is filtered through memories of the artist’s own personal history. Maxwell's imagery on the other hand, while also addressing the legacy of print advertisement in the digital age, looks at its ephemerality through aggregation and accumulation. Biting into societal and personal constructs of femininity both artists commit to an encompassing approach, resulting in work that both entices and provokes.
James Wolanin elevates the subject of Americana through a vivid re-imagining of the type imagery depicted in popular American advertisements from his childhood, rendered in a precise, hard-edged style, using surfboard resin as a finish. Unlike the idealized dream-girl stereotypes prevalent in contemporary media, Wolanin’s women lean towards the wholesome. These captured moments are full of a winking charm simultaneously nostalgic and fresh. The flat planes of color, soft palette, and nod to vintage and minimalist tonal transitions help the works read on an abstract level, creating a deeper resonance between the compositional elements. Wolanin continuously plays with the imagery, working between the ambiguous and beguiling, redefining the narrative.
Jane Maxwell explores the complexities of the feminine ideal through the paper medium of current advertisements, brochures and original billboard papers. The work has a feel of the sculptural through the sheer physicality of this material, which is layered, cut and peeled into distinctive female silhouettes. Exploring the ubiquitous and inundating nature of the advertisements, as well as our perception of them, the work presents a complex commentary. Completely deconstructing the original intent of the source material, the artist clothes and forms the female body out of this aggregated ephemera, synthesizing the idealized imagery of the advertisements into something with entirely new meaning.