Sleeping BeautyFebruary 20 – April 13
Amrin, 2018, pigment print, ed. of 5, 30 x 30”
Opening Reception: Feb. 20, 5 – 6:30pm
Public Talk: March 27, 5:00pm in the Recital HallPanel Discussion: March 12, 7pm in the Recital Hall
Martin Art Gallery at Muhlenberg College is pleased to host Lydia Panas for her solo exhibition Sleeping Beauty. In conjunction with this exhibition there will be an interdepartmental panel discussion entitled Feminist Perspectives: Sex and Gender in the Creative Economy and Beyond, on March 12th, at 7pm in the Recital Hall, in the Baker Center for the Arts, across from the Gallery. Sleeping Beauty will be accompanied by a 20-page catalog with essay by Seph Rodney.
Through a series of video installations and photographic works, Sleeping Beauty examines the contradictions women face in a world struggling to embrace their power. As we have seen with the #metoo movement, our collective bias against women creates double standards and unattainable demands. The issue is compounded when women are bombarded with contradictory messages: be strong, be sexy, be beautiful, be powerful, in every aspect of their lives. The women and girls in Sleeping Beauty lie outdoors on the ground, yet they are alert and aware. This work highlights the capacity for strength and knowledge that lies below the surface. The portraits convey a strength unseen and unsettled, contradicting the viewers’ tendency to see the individuals as helpless damsels. Acting as mirrors, the photographs reverse the gaze from viewer to the subject as the viewer becomes a collaborator in the process. Exploring the roles of power and trust on both sides of the camera, Panas pays close attention to what she brings to the photographic encounter. Demonstrating not just how women are viewed but how women themselves view the world, the artist asks the viewer to envision him or herself with these constraints and what it might feel like, collaborating in a shared, collective experience. Watching Serena Williams at the U.S. Open, Panas was recently reminded that rage and femininity are taboo. We learn to conceal our feelings when internal leanings clash with societal expectations. “I was taught as a girl to look nice and be silent. My practice tells me I need to speak up.”
Lydia Panas is an artist working in photography and video. Her work explores our collective societal relationship to women. Using a variety of approaches, her practice is attentive to the psyche and what lies below the surface in an attempt to probe questions about who we are and what we want to become. The daughter of immigrants and raised between two continents, the notion of home has always felt elusive. Settling on seventy acres in Pennsylvania to raise her family, the natural landscape is an important element in the work. Lydia’s work has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries in the U.S. and internationally. Her works are represented in public and private collections including the Brooklyn Museum, Bronx Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Palm Springs Art Museum, Allentown Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago, Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego, and the Sheldon Museum among others. Her work has appeared in many periodicals such as the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, The Village Voice, French Photo, and Hyperallergic. Lydia has degrees from Boston College, the School of Visual Arts, and New York University/International Center of Photography. She is the recipient of a Whitney Museum Independent Study Fellowship and a CFEVA Fellowship. She has two monographs, “Falling from Grace” (Conveyor Arts 2016) and “The Mark of Abel” (Kehrer Verlag 2012) which was named a best coffee table book by the Daily Beast. She divides her time between Kutztown, Pennsylvania and New York, New York.