Press Releases

For Immediate Release
February 23, 2015

For more information, contact
Stuart Soloway
(585) 395-2797

Gendered Journeys Explores Feminism and Female Empowerment in Eastern Europe

Gendered Journeys: Art and Activism of Melissa Potter and Miriam Schaer is the next exhibition at the Tower Fine Arts Center Gallery at The College at Brockport.

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Press Release Photo Berikaoba Felt Masks, Border of Daghestan

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Press Release Photo Baby (Not) on Board by Miriam Schaer

Brockport, NY – Gendered Journeys: Art and Activism of Melissa Potter and Miriam Schaer is the next exhibition at the Tower Fine Arts Center Gallery at The College at Brockport. The show, which highlights feminism and female empowerment, especially in Eastern European cultures, will be on display from March 3 – 29, 2015. The gallery is located at 180 Holley Street, Brockport, and the exhibit is free and open to the public. An opening reception will take place between 4 and 6 pm on Tuesday, March 3. (The Gallery will be closed from March 14 – 22 for academic break.)

Among Potter and Schaer’s featured projects will be “Feminist Felt,” a unique craft‐based project in the Republic of Georgia which brings together groups of women for a series of workshops in artists’ books and personal storytelling using the medium of handmade felt, an indigenous Georgian craft. The works embrace feminist activism for women’s basic rights to safety, as well as advocacy for women craft artisans, whose skills are endangered, underpaid and under‐recognized.

According to curator Kitty Hubbard, associate professor in the Department of Art, the primary focus of this exhibition is documentation of Potter and Schaer’s collaboration with women in the Republic of Georgia, which grew out of their 2013 Soros Arts and Culture grant. They worked with artist activist groups and women’s craft unions in the Republic of Georgia which, aside from felt-making, also created protest banners and masks that have been used in Georgian feminist and LGBTQIA marches and rallies. These craft practices are in urgent need of intangible heritage preservation. Simultaneously, women's empowerment movements have taken Georgia into its second wave of feminism, and they oppose the oppressive gender regulations of an Orthodox society, at times to their personal endangerment.

The exhibition will include their contributions to the project, including felted objects and masks, more than 30 large-scale photos of books, banners, workshop participants and activist events created and photographed by the artists. Works by the individual artists will also be shown. Included is Potter’s recently released documentary, Like Other Girls Do, featuring the story of a Montenegrian woman who was raised in a Balkan tradition as a boy in a family with no male heirs. Preparatory sketches and related materials to the films development will be included in the exhibit to provide context of the film- making process to viewers. Naturally, the film addresses gender identity of these “sworn virgins, which was a phenomenon amongst certain Albanian mountain women who took vows of celibacy and forever dressed, worked and lived as men.”

Schaer’s work includes artist books and altered garments from her works with Georgian women and her series Baby (Not) on Board.

Melissa Potter is a multi-media artist whose work investigates women’s rites of passage, from marriage, to motherhood. Her work is expressed in paper, print, sculpture, and video animation. She exhibited at venues including the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and White Columns, where she was featured in the exhibition Regarding Gloria, one of the first survey precursors to the 2007 “year of feminism.” She is founder of the New York City-based feminist art collective, Art364B. Potter is a three-time Fulbright recipient. In her first award, she founded a hand papermaking program at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Belgrade, Serbia. She returns to Serbia in March 2015 for her third Fulbright award.

Miriam Schaer, a Brooklyn-based multimedia book artist, uses garments to explore feminine, social, and spiritual issues. She’s been in numerous exhibitions including one at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City and has work included in many public collections including the Arthur Jaffe Artist Collection, the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture and the Alan Chasanoff Collection at the Yale Museum of Art. Her work was selected for representation at the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in South Korea, and Imagining the Book Biennale at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt.

Hubbard is “delighted to share the important collaborative and individual works of Melissa Potter and Miriam Schaer with the Brockport community. Their creative practice very much addresses the importance of giving voice to the personal and political issues of women today. We may have come a long way, but we have a long way to go on this gendered journey.”

Potter and Schaer are faculty members at Columbia College in Chicago, IL in the Interdisciplinary Arts MFA program. In 2013 they received Soros Arts and Culture Program funding for their project, Crafting Women’s Stories: Lives in Georgian Felt with colleague Clifton Meador, which is included in the Brockport show.

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Gallery hours: Monday – Friday: 10 am - 5 pm, Sunday: 1 - 4 pm. For more information, call (585) 395-2805. Parking at Tower Fine Arts Center: Weekdays: Until 7 pm, parking permits are required. Permits cost $5 and can be obtained at the Raye H. Conrad Welcome Center. Evenings and Weekends: After 7 pm on weekdays, and throughout the weekend, parking is not regulated. Metered parking is available adjacent to Tower Fine Arts Center.

Image: 1: Berikaoba Felt Masks, Border of Daghestan (Size: 22 x 30) Handmade felted masks inspired by the masked transformation rituals of the Tusheti region of the Caucasus (also a pan-Balkan ritual). Designs inspired by interviews with regional ethnographers. Photographed at the border of Daghestan, where many of these traditions originate. 2: Baby (Not) on Board by Miriam Schaer

The College at Brockport, State University of New York
350 New Campus Drive * Brockport, New York 14420-2931
(585) 395-2754 * FAX (585) 395-2723 *

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