Arachne’s Woof: Women, Creativity and History Dr. Kathy Battista
Weaving has for centuries been considered a female occupation, and primarily a domestic talent, before being developed on an industrial scale…Today weaving and embroidery are used by mainstream artists as disparate as Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin, Francesco Vezzoli, and Andrea Zittel.
Daniella Sheinman, an artist based in Tel Aviv, whose work has rejected color for the past twenty-one years. Sheinman also creates portraiture of female subject matter, albeit more specific than Self’s, for this exhibition, presenting three works that begin as small black and white drawings that are transferred to ceramic painting on glass. Untitled (My Mona Lisa I, II and III) are portraits of her granddaughter created in 2015. All three works use an interior oval compositional structure to visually contain the portraits of the young woman: in each piece she is seen drawn, in ceramic printing on glass panels, from the bust up in black on a white surface, in the same pose as Leonardo da Vinci’s infamous heroin. While in Untitled (My Mona Lisa II and III) the viewer sees the woman as timeless, Untitled (My Mona Lisa I) includes the young woman wearing a logo sweatshirt, signaling her existence within a contemporary era. The titles are a nod to the artist’s affection for her progeny, elevating her from a typical young woman to one of the most mysterious and captivating figures in the history of art.
In each work the oval structures are disrupted by an overlay of erratic lines that may be read as web-like in places and landscape elements in others. In addition to obscuring some of the facial details in the works, this overlay of abstract lines disrupts the discreteness of the oval shaped portraits. The oval portraits are direct references to both the history of portrait and miniature painting, as mentioned above. Sheinman seems to call her subjects from another historical epoch, suggesting these are women of importance; however, she disturbs the sanctity of the portraiture with the web of lines, which is a typical motif of her work in painting as well as sculpture. Like Rauschenberg’s erased de Kooning, she obliterates her own handiwork, suggesting the process of reworking and rethinking the composition. One literally sees the angst and vulnerability of the creative process in the works— the ebb and flow of creative confidence and deflation. Using what appears at first to be straightforward portraiture, the artist tells the story of the creative process, as well as the story of women’s achievement, both past and present.