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Sitting Pretty PR

Press Release
Sitting Pretty
Gallery Opening: Wednesday, September 21st 6:30-9:30pm

Sitting Pretty is a group show comprised of photographs, paintings and collages by up-and-coming contemporary artists.  All of the works included in this show feature images of women, models and unknowns “sitting” in some form, either literally or figuratively.  The title, Sitting Pretty, can be illustrated in many ways. Literally it can be shown as the models are actually sitting, whether on a chair or car, as demonstrated in Klodin Erb’s paintings.  Figuratively, Sitting Pretty can be conveyed in the more traditional definition of the word ‘sitter’, one who poses for an artist.  This is illustrated in Inbal Sivan’s staged photographs where her models are set up in front of her lens posing for the camera.

Colleen Cunningham’s collages shift between a harsh critique of contemporary fashion, beauty ideals and a satire of her own self-image. Using a variety of sources, including magazines, vintage prints and personal photos, Cunningham creates characters that challenge our ideas of what is “pretty.”  She oftentimes cuts and pastes bits and pieces of model’s perfect 10 bodies and pairs them with images of the familiar including herself, her friends and their surroundings.  This fusion of ordinary and extraordinary creates a place where anyone can be beautiful; an imaginary space that defies society’s standards by utilizing them as building blocks.
Ryan DiVita’s photographs rely on set up visual circumstances and frozen moments in time to captivate his audience.  In his latest series, DiVita takes snapshots of contrived fashion window displays at high end retail stores. However, instead of taking frontal, all encompassing photographs, he takes his work a step further by shooting from different angles and vantage points, thus shifting the focus and interpretation of the original intention or function of the window display.  In turn, what stands out is the dramatic nature of the tableaus, shadows and light, sensuality and performance elements.  DiVita reframes the context of how we look at things and how a viewer observes the world around them.

Klodin Erb’s paintings are directly inspired by fashion and girlie magazines.  She uses the fashion advertisements of Moschino, Prada, Roberto Cavalli and more as her starting point for her paintings.  In her own unique way, Erb takes the flat two-dimensional fashion advertisements and turns them into vibrant three-dimensional works that evoke the essence of beauty and elegance.  All of these works are from a series entitled, Glanz und Gloria, meaning Glitz & Glory.  Each work is Untitled, as the women are not supposed to directly reference any one model or fashion warehouse. 

Katie Kingma’s photographs create a dialogue between the fears of grown women and the fantasies of young girls. Kingma often pulls references, in her imagery and compositional elements from horror films and fairy tales.  The mood of her photographs is strongly dependent upon the interaction of the subject with the environment. The subjects in her photographs, i.e. the girls, are oftentimes dwarfed by the environmental locations they inhabit.  The environment acts as a character rather than a place; she wants the subject and the environment to coexist.  Kingma uses multiple frames to illustrate her narrative and allude to different events.  She challenges the viewer to engage with the image and search for a meaning within the narrative.  The strength of her narrative is dependent upon the information that is excluded from the photographic frame as well. Ultimately, Kingma’s goal is to force the viewer to make a conclusion based not only on the elements of the photograph but from their own personal experiences.

Inbal Sivan considers this series of photographs to be one portrait.  It’s an exploration of a woman in her early 20’s, (like the artist), who is beautiful not only for her features, but also for the universality of her experiences at this stage in her life. The women are overtly sexual, disarmingly naïve, terrified, thrilled and overwhelmed by the task of climbing the fence into adulthood.  Sivan takes her inspiration from art historical references such as Mannerist paintings.  Another inspiration is in Gunther Grass’s The Tin Drum, which portrays reality not as it appears, but as it feels, complete with all its exaggerations, distortions, and skewed perspectives. Similarly, this body of work is constructed on a foundation of contradictions.  Sivan’s subjects evoke genuine empathy in spite of the overtly theatrical artifice of the photographs.  The women appear to be sensually seductive despite their settings being psychologically unsettling.  These images hold the promise of a story that wants to be told, but provide none of the answers.

Colleen Cunningham graduated from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, 2003, with a BFA in Photography.  Ryan DiVita is expected to graduate from Cleveland Institute of Art with a degree in Photography, 2006.  Klodin Erb is a Swiss painter who currently lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland.  Katie Kingma is a recent graduate of School of Visual Arts, NY with a BA in Photography, 2005. Inbal Sivan is a young Israeli artist who graduated with honors from the School of Visual Arts, New York, with a BFA in photography, 2004. 

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