An account of two thought-provoking and visually enticing exhibits in Goucher College’s Rosenberg and Silber Galleries by Joan Cox

In the Silber Gallery, a group exhibit curated by gallery director Laura Amussen, titled Femme, features nine artists.

The reception was crowded and full of energy—an energy that was amplified by Maggie Schneider’s live performance piece, Narcissus. Self. Portrait. The artist posed in front of a life-sized mirror—completely entranced with her own reflection—occasionally primping and adjusting her pose for the duration of the reception. A string of white lights were arranged in a circumference on the floor around her to keep gallery-goers from interrupting her performance. In addition, the lights wrapped around the mirror to give Schneider an aura of fame and celebrity.

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The center of the gallery is activated by Sandylee Triolo’s video installation, W.F.E.M, that consists of two orange arm chairs, a side table, a green shag carpet and a floor-model tv circa 1960 playing video footage of movies, advertisements and idealized images of women from the past 50 years of media.

The rear wall of the gallery is painted entirely black. The center of the wall juts forward into the gallery space and has a circular cutout revealing a video screen. Closer inspection reveals an enlarged close up of male genitalia. Based on the idea of Courbet’s Origin of the Universe, artist Allana Clarke puts the male body on display for the pleasure of the female gaze. Clarke’s piece, The Black Box Usurps the White Cube Usurps the Black Box, grabs your attention from the other side of the gallery due to the encompassing black wall and the sheer nudity, but it is the scale of the piece that can’t be ignored. At least five times life-size, the shock value overcomes the intimacy it could have provided for a viewer. Allana Clarke and Lauren Kalman also have video works near the entrance to the exhibit that demand your attention— each has imagery that is a bit uncomfortable to watch.

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The diversity of works in Femme ranging from the beautiful to the grotesque is tremendous: there are intimate paintings by Claire Girodie, and Judith Peck, beautiful and intriguing photographs by Alana Beall and Donna Feldman Lasky and understated, but still surprising, mixed media works by Marilyn Gomez.

Maggie Schneider will be present in the gallery once per week to perform Narcissus. Self. Portrait. from 2pm – 4pm on Friday, February 21st; Saturday, March 1st; and Friday, March 7th.  Femme is on display February 4th through March 9th, 2014. The art can be viewed Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please visit www.goucher.edu/silber for more information.

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While you are on the Goucher campus, don’t miss Joseph Hyde’s solo exhibition, Certain Trees, in the Rosenberg Gallery. His haunting black and white photographs of trees are evocative of human forms.

In his fine art practice, Hyde photographs trees obsessively. Within their gnarled and out stretched limbs he finds sentient and gestural qualities. Wrought with these familiar humanlike characteristics, Hyde’s photos draw the viewer in and offer a quiet place for contemplation. Recently, while visiting La Push, Washington he found primal elements of nature in pristine condition; big water, big rocks, big wood, and heavy, restless skies. Working in tandem with his surroundings, Hyde’s most recent compositions beautifully capture various aspects of unspoiled landscapes, weathered branches, and protruding land masses.

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Certain Trees, is on display January 11th through March 2nd, 2014. This exhibit, which is free and open to the public, can be viewed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please visit www.goucher.edu/rosenberg for more information.

* Author and photographer Joan Cox is a Baltimore-based painter and a graduate of the MFA program at MassArts.