Our current exhibition, “Beyond Being Hmong: Artists as Individuals,” is composed of drawings, paintings and photographs, but what strikes me most is how many portraits there are.
There are photographic portraits of beloved family members. There are watercolors of nieces that recall Impressionism. There is an oil and pastel canvas of Euphyllia, the guardian of corals, as a meditation on rising ocean temperatures worldwide.
What is also remarkable to me is how many of these portraits are of women, girls, or goddesses. What is it about the feminine that inspires visual artists to try and capture that likeness and spirit? If I’m cynical, I’d say that it’s a patriarchal leftover of women being objects, and men the subjects painting them. But that’s not the feeling I got when I viewed these portraits. Instead, I noted all the versions of the sacred feminine, from toddlers to grandmothers. How health and illness was portrayed in different pieces. How artists always, whether they want to or not (and I do think they want to), find the beauty in the smallest and most ordinary of detail.
“Beyond Being Hmong: Artists as Individuals” runs through September 4. I’d encourage you to stop in and see these pieces for yourself, and share what you think here with members of our community.