Emerging Philadelphia, now on view at the Galleries at Moore, brings three local artists together for distinct exhibitions that at first may not seem to have a common thread—but wend through them all, including timely meditations on money, politics, and women’s bodies, and you’ll find plenty to think about.
Artists Shona McAndrew, Matt A. Osborn, and Stacey Lee Weber were selected to show simultaneously and in proximity to one another, but Moore presents a solo show for each artist in clearly divided spaces within the galleries. The work between the artists seems to have little formal or conceptual overlap, with the exception of McAndrew’s illustrative 2D work, A Floor of One’s Own, which feels like a logical segue into Osbourn’s cartoon world in the next space.
Viewer as voyeur
As you approach the gallery on Race Street, McAndrew’s exhibition, titled Wednesday Night, offers tender and vulnerable moments that are immediately visible from the window. From the outside, the viewer becomes a voyeur, peering on moments of embrace, grooming, dressing, and (almost) masturbating. Inside the space, life-sized papier-mâché objects become vessels or proxies for one’s own body and relationship to these everyday rituals. The clunky handling and yarn pubic hair provides comic relief to some of the (painful) realities of existing in a woman’s body.
Your place in the space
After leaving a space that feels like a bedroom full of flesh, condom wrappers, and strewn clothes, entering Osborn’s show, Evenings & Weekends, is a reminder of the viewer’s position within a gallery space. Colorful cartoonish paintings hang in clusters on white walls. The paintings in the show feel diaristic at times, and show a sense of urgency. Many of the paintings suggest a particular speed of the hand as Osborn scrawls images that reference Donald Trump, Francisco Goya, and Charlie Brown. The installation’s layout facilitates a sketchbook or comic book-style approach from the viewer, but it is unclear if these images are meant to be read in a particular sequence.
Money, labor, and gender
The final space shows the slow and laborious work of Webber’s portion, Fraudulent Intent. The raw materials for these pieces include US, Italian, Chinese, and Iraqi currency. Using money or referencing money in this way evokes capitalism, exchange, power, and labor. Webber’s various uses of these materials highlight gendered relationships to money, particularly when juxtaposing her Craftsman Series and Embroidered Bills. The relationship between the two pieces creates a gender binary in the work: labor traditionally designated as belonging to men contrasts with a traditional vision of women’s labor.
While these moves feel obvious, there is a lot of subtlety in Webber’s embossment pieces. What happens when you have the absence or imprint of money? What do you begin to notice when you just see the imprint of Abraham Lincoln’s face? These are a few questions that might arise when looking over the carefully crafted work in the show.
If you’ve ever wondered how artists process capitalism and the oppressive expectations of the female body, especially in the complicated era of Trump, head over to see these three exhibitions.
What, When, Where
Emerging Philadelphia. Featuring Shona McAndrew, Matt A. Osborn, and Stacey Lee Webber. Through March 14, 2020, at the Galleries at Moore, 1916 Race St., Philadelphia. (215) 965-4027 or thegalleriesatmoore.org.
The Galleries at Moore are not fully ADA-compliant, but they are wheelchair accessible.