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#401687 - 03/04/11 03:53 PM Exhibit rewrites women’s identities through art
Marty Offline

Exhibit rewrites women’s identities through photographs and paint

An exhibition with a provocative name opens at the Image factory this Friday. It features the Facebook persona of Kate Usher and the works of Jill Burgess depicting the different labels given to women. News Five’s Jose Sanchez spoke to both artists today.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

“El Fleco plus vixens, bitches and whores” is about seriously misunderstood women as well as graphical compositions made by Jill Burgess Kate and Katie Usher.

Katie ‘El Fleco’ Usher, Artist

Katie Usher

“We are seriously misunderstood women. Why am I black with my hair perm and she is white and she has dreads and I have these Kanye West shades on? These shades are like four years old; this was 2007 we’re now in 2011. Why am I still there, why are we still stuck in to the past, why must we still paint? I know people will come here and say oh Katie, you do art; I want see your painting gial. I do not paint. I am so sorry. In fact, no I don’t apologize, I take it back.”

Jose Sanchez

“That’s where songs like stronger come in.”

Kate Usher

“Exactly. When I saw that song, it opened something to me—that which won’t kill me will make me stronger. And it is true, that’s what my mom told me from when I was a little girl. In Creole we say if ih noh kill yoh ih wah fatten yoh! Just do your thing. People will talk bout you anyway you take it. People will misunderstand you and try to label you. I don’t have any label. You come in here and you see this and I think lot of people lost. Who is Katie Usher.”

Jill Burgess is the artist that paints on driftwood and canvas. Her art looks at titles that have been given to many women; that is Vixens, Bitches and Whores.

Jill Burgess, Artist

Jill Burgess

“These are names that society puts on people, on women. And I chose women in folklore. And I noticed a pattern as I started investigating these mythological women and folklore women, creatures—that they were actually a little bit different than their ultimate monster appearance. That if you went back into these stories, often times they meant something else. I have a facebook account as well. And I kinda put this out there. I gave it a shock value so I asked my friends if they can tell me what they know about any vixens bitches or whores that they know about in history or mythology. And this came up over and over and some people were saying la llorona, who is the weeping woman, she is one and then the other ones; Ixtabai, Mary Magdalene. So we have these women who were through history become bad, even the name like Jezebel or Melenche which is actually a name for a woman who is a traitor because she betrayed her race. But if you look into these stories more and more and more, you’ll find that they are not really that way at all. It’s become oversimplified and you’ll see it a different, a part of psyche we all experience.”

Jose Sanchez

“But Mary Magdalene, which one would she be and why?”

Jill Burgess

“She was a prostitute; she was a repentant prostitute and she was use her hair to wash Jesus’ feet, but if you look into that now, modern scholars have come up to a different idea of who she was.”

El Fleco is the online persona of Katie Usher in Facebook.

Kate Usher

“What viewers will see is me—my life. I am twenty-four years old, I am an artist, I have resigned from some things, but this is my show; this is my facebook life on blast. What do I want them to think? I want them to realize that we are suffering a huge disconnect, young people especially; we are totally lost. So we find all these artificial and superficial mediums of connect: you know; we have a facebook, we have a twitter, we will blog, some people still have their myspace, their hi5, their tagged—ooh god, countless—they go on and on, these social networks. So what I want I want them to think is that ok you’re not connecting, but you can connect in those artificial connectors with your art. If you are a dancer, dance. Shoot the viral. Kanye says in his song, “we ain’t all gonna be American idols, but grab a camera, shoot a viral, but your jerk video up there. I mean dougie and upload it and somebody will see you.”

Jill Burgess

“I have no idea where these shades came from, yet I have seen them actually. And so I thought it was an interesting contrast between these sharp images of Katie here and I love me. And you have these soft, you know images of women and I think it’s an interesting contrast. But yet like as she said, they are misunderstood women. I have my women here that I have created from my imagination and from folklore and she has an image that she’s created on facebook and I think these images of women are very interested and should be looked at.

Whatever titles are placed on women, the artists have decided to rewrite their own identity through photographs and paint. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.


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#401700 - 03/04/11 04:09 PM Re: Exhibit rewrites women’s identities through art [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
FACEBOOK Vs. Folklore

It's women's month and our next two stories are about art created by women. And what's great about them, is how different they all are.

We start at the Image Factory where two female artists from very different backgrounds, and with very different styles are clashing, but doing so creatively. First we talk to the girl who goes by the name El Fleco, which is Spanish for bangs:…

Katie Usher, "El Fleco" Artist
"My Hair, it's all about my hair, it's all about my bang, my crisis, my life. I was in art school - I left art school and I came to Belize, I had a lot of jobs - I resign from that, I had the boyfriend, it didn't work out so it just like I am resigning from all of this. Right now I am doing this performance piece that I am dismantling my Facebook as we are coming closer to the show. I got rid of all my albums except for 3 - I deleted all my notes, I deleted all my profile pictures except for 4 so it's like breaking down. As I am doing "El Fleco" Katie Usher Facebook page is coming down."

It's all about Katie Usher's Facebook page and her pathological obsessions about beauty and image that play out on that site are her art:

Katie Usher, "El Fleco" Artist
"The way I see Facebook you can be up there and just show your art or you could show your panty business or unless your panty business is your art then it's not a problem. I just use the opportunity of getting out my stuff to a lot of people because you know you could sell panades, you could see your art work, and you could sell yourself. I choose to sell my art up there."

And Facebook is referenced not just as a gateway to this artist's visual platform, it's also a commentary on the social disconnectedness implied in this social network:

Katie Usher, "El Fleco" Artist
"I have a lot of Facebook friends that I don't really even know nor do I hang out with but we are so intimate and we are so friendly on Facebook."

And From Facebook's chilly postmodern embrace to the familiarity of folklore - Jill Burgess has taken well known folk stories of evil female spirits, form La Llorona to Xtabai, painted and collected them:

Jill Burgess, Artist
"I have been focusing a lot on the image of women and society and how they have portrayed women through folklore, particularly Belizean folklore."

And while the show is about these mystery maidens of the middle world, the title is most indelicate; it's called Vixens, bitches and whores. It does sound rough, but that's precisely the point the labels so often applied to women are simply undeserving demonization:

Jill Burgess, Artist
"It's harsh to look at but I believe that society puts harsh words and images on women all the time when they are really not harsh at all, they can be beautiful people tats why we have misunderstood women and I just became more fascinated with that topic that subject as I look further, investigated these creatures - they turn into monsters and I found out that they were not monsters at all. Like Xtabai was actually turns out to be a story from way back up in the Yucatan Peninsula, that's where that story originated if you investigated it further. Nobody in Belize has really said that Xtabai is a prostitute; where did this come from, nobody has heard of that. So its changes has come here, actually she was a very generous giving person so I don't know how she turn into this monster that gets disguise when you are coming home."

And now she hopes that by re-contextualizing these dreaded demons - she can offer them some image - rehabilitation.

Jill Burgess, Artist
"I think that when you come here you will find that its actually not so harsh that these women were actually - these myths come from real people and aspects of our psyche that we need to look at differently."

Jill Burgess is from Cincinnati, Ohio.

The exhibit opens tomorrow night. To coincide with the opening, Yasser Musa will also be launching an electronic book called El Fleco.



Women In Art

And while those are only two artists, more than 40 female artists will be displaying over 70 art pieces at the Institute of Creative Arts. The exhibition is called Women in Art and is officially a part of Women's Month. It's opening right about now at the Bliss Center and we found out more about it today:….

Kimberly Vasquez - Producer at ICA
"Over 70 pieces from over 40 female artists. Some are amateurs and some have far more experience so we have, for example we have Angela Gegg, we have Lita Krohn, we have Ingrif Cayetano and many others including some up and coming young artists like Elona Smiling and the exhibit is being curated we are pleased to say by Ms. Rachel Heusner, she is here with us in Belize from Trinidad and we are please to have her as a female curating the exhibit this year."

"We have photography here, we have some paintings. we have jewelry like you see I am modeming some of the jewelry and some graphic designers well. It's called Women in Art and Women in Art actually is a part of a larger program we have here at the Institute of Creative Arts, it will run concurrently throughout Women's Month this month and there is a lineup of other activities for example we have on the 26th March - we have divas and starlets which the performing art showcase and on the 25th, the day before that we have a forum call 30 years of women in art and that will encompass participation of women in art from across the country and different ages."

"This is our creative outlet. To me women - we are just creators by nature and this is one way of expressing ourselves and showing the positive contributions that women make in society." The exhibit will be opened throughout the day for the entire month of March.

Channel 7


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