Art review: Female artists examine notion of home in Athens show

Home, as it is understood by female artists, is the crux of Atlanta curator Candice Greathouse’s exhibition “Domestic Structures” at the cool Athens alternative art space ATHICA, housed in a warehouse facing railroad tracks on the industrial fringe of town where artist spaces, dance studios and creative companies share close quarters.

Featuring seven artists from Atlanta and Athens, “Domestic Structures” is a spare, subtle show with some nice air time between pieces. That degree of space between work, both physical but also psychological — allowing the mental space to ponder the work — is important, and always appreciated when so many group shows overstock their exhibitions, certain that more work and information equals a more persuasively mounted thesis.

RELATED: On our premium site, Review: Much notable work in contemporary Southeastern artists’ exhibit

Though far from perfect and a show in need of a hook beyond female musings on the domestic, “Domestic Structures” shows sophisticated intent that falls short of its desire to reanimate what the home means in 21st-century artists’ terms. The exhibition’s stated jumping-off point is the Womanhouse art collective created in the ’70s by feminist artists Judy Chicago and Miriam Shapiro, which imagined home as a place of creativity rather than simply of female confinement in domestic servitude.

There is work that gets at the security and womb-like comforts of home — Meta Gary’s humble, sloppily charming tent fort, for instance. To enter “Fort 5,” viewers shuck their shoes and crawl inside the sheet- and blanket-draped cave, to sit on cushions pulled from vintage sofas and watch a tiny, vintage television featuring “Sesame Street,” home movies, “The NeverEnding Story” and other comforting childhood entertainments. The forts we built in childhood may be our first attempt to create an ideal home of our own, one founded on security and softness, and that evocation may be the sweetest idea in the mix.

On the opposite end of the spectrum for its austere evocation of home is InKyoung Chun’s “Blue Gate,” a steel structure in the iconic shape of a house whose blue neon tubes give a mere semblance of warmth. “Blue Gate” suggests that the idea of home is as basic as a street sign; an empty vessel we fill with our own ideas, comforts, positive and negative connotations. Lauren O’Connor-Korb’s “Gregor’s Anxious Dreams” strikes a similar note of formalist dis-ease: inside a mantel or shelf, an incessantly pinging whirl like a lottery ball forever looping in its basket signals some caged anxiety pent up in the home’s very structure.

RELATED: On our premium site, Review: Photographic experimentation unites 2 very different artists

A sophisticated evocation of the fragility of home, Elizabeth Lide’s “Dirty Laundry” plays like a collection of archaeological relics. Her vases and pitchers crafted from paper pulp and plaster suggest a myth of home propped up with great effort. Channeling a similar handicraft moment, Jessica Machacek’s “Curtain: Blue Majestic With Ocean Bottom” is a quilt whose cozy, homegrown ambiance is destroyed by its material — vinyl.

There is also work that asserts the domestic as a subject without offering much more by way of insight like the talented photographer Christina Price Washington’s photogram of a “Couch” that turns a familiar object into something slightly eerie. Some of the most enticing work in the show are Brittainy Lauback’s quietly creepy magazine-slick images of vintage offices. Her beige and peach-colored push button telephones and answering machines are relics of another age, a “Mad Men”-era when office work was less a career than a purgatory before marriage. Vases of roses and manicured nails suggest women as the ultimate office appliance. All of the bland, sand-colored office accessories lend a mix of sadness and vapidity to the world depicted that gets under your skin.


Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Living

Chester Bennington’s wife releases statement: ‘How do I move on?’
Chester Bennington’s wife releases statement: ‘How do I move on?’

Chester Bennington of Linkin Park performing in Los Angeles on May 22, 2017 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for iHeartMedia) BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene The wife of Chester Bennington is speaking out eight days after the Linkin Park singer committed suicide at their California...
Atlanta Concert Tickets on sale this week: Jennifer Nettles, Molotov
Atlanta Concert Tickets on sale this week: Jennifer Nettles, Molotov

Jennifer Nettles will perform with the Atlanta Symphony later this year. Photo: Robb Cohen Photography & Video / BY SARIA CANADAY, AJC Music Scene blog If you find a mistake in Hot Tickets, please let us know. Contact Saria Canady at Events are subject to change, so it’s...
VIDEO: Jazz robots, fish studies and other stuff the military spends money on

President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender military personnel this week (via Twitter, of course). “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming  victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” he wrote...
Voice behind Rocky the Squirrel dies at 99
Voice behind Rocky the Squirrel dies at 99

June Foray, a voice actress who portrayed croaky grandmothers, purring cats and the world’s most famous flying rodent — Rocket J. Squirrel, from “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” — in hundreds of animated movies, television series and commercials, died July 26 at a Los Angeles hospital. She was 99. Her niece, Robin Thaler...
Atlanta Concerts this week: Shawn Mendes, 2 Chainz
Atlanta Concerts this week: Shawn Mendes, 2 Chainz

2 Chainz will kick off his tour at the Tabernacle on Aug. 1. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene FRIDAY Retro Futura It’s a synth-fiesta on this ‘80s-centric tour that stars Howard Jones , Men...
More Stories