Neither a teddy bear’s picnic, nor a pack of ferocious beasts, Allyson Mitchell’s newest installation presents an epic gathering of figures, each one a monumental symbol of female brains, brawn and sexuality – a community of Lady Sasquatches. The freestanding, sculptural works by Toronto-based Mitchell marry feminist theory with the artist’s favorite material, fun fur.
In a new twist on the legend of the Sasquatch, a wild hairy creature consistently described as solitary and male, Mitchell has assembled a congregation of anatomically correct females. Standing upright at over 10 feet tall, they are beautifully crafted creations of fun fur, taxidermy glass eyes and various fake bear parts.
“This curatorial project presents the artist’s realignment of feminine representation in which she symbolizes the mythical feminine as something not easily captured or domesticated, or harnessed to sell, yet undeniably powerful and attractive,” says curator Carla Garnet. “Exhibited as a group she gathers strength from her society, she shifts the hierarchy and in as much essentially attempts to create a utopian feminist community.”
Allyson Mitchell describes herself as a maximalist artist working predominantly in sculpture, installation and film. Since 1997, Mitchell has been melding feminism and pop culture to play with contemporary ideas about sexuality, autobiography, and the body, largely through the use of reclaimed textile and abandoned craft.
Her work has been exhibited in galleries and festivals across Canada, the US, Europe and East Asia. She has also performed extensively with Pretty Porky and Pissed Off, a fat performance troupe, as well as publishing both writing and music. She recently completed her PhD in Women’s Studies at York University, where she also teaches cultural studies.
The McMaster Museum of Art, in Hamilton, Ont., is proud to be the first venue for this exhibition which will tour nationally to The Winnipeg Art Gallery, The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Peterborough.
This exhibition, generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council, will run January 29 to March 21.
An exhibition catalogue including essays by Ann Cvetkovich, Carla Garnet, and Josie Mills will be available