Rowan University Art Gallery

The Feminist Responsibility Project

Opening Reception: Tuesday, March 29th, 5 - 7:30 pm

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Feminist parody or apocalyptic nightmare?


The Feminist Responsibility Project


Marking a new point in its history, the Rowan University Art Gallery concludes the 2010-2011 season with a striking new site-specific, multi-media installation by renowned artist Beverly Semmes includes video, photography, sculpture, and performance. Opening Tuesday, March 29th with a lecture at 5:00 pm and a reception to follow. The exhibition will run from March 29 – May 14. The exhibit is supported by a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the only individual project grant given in Gloucester County this year.


Semmes' new work, The Feminist Responsibility Project (FRP), deploys her familiar themes of feet, fabric, costume and performance in a way that takes her obsession with desire, meaning, and visual pleasure in a new direction.  FRP is at once a feminist dreamscape and a post-apocalyptic feminist nightmare resonating as strangely and awkwardly humorous, while remaining poignant in its universal theme.


Visitors to the gallery will encounter a theatrical scene consisting of an island of white fabric, with two live figures in specially-designed dresses seated within it.  A hand-sculpted crystal chandelier illuminates the set illustrating the feminist dedication to craft. A large-scale altered photograph is counter to a video that references the superego of a feminist reminding the viewer of the eternal kick necessary to carry on the cause.  An aural element from the video fills the gallery and creates a drumbeat of intensity.


The artist's hand is present throughout the installation of the FRP. She has sewn the fabric pool and the dresses, sculpted the chandelier out of crystal, videotaped her own feet kicking pink potatoes across a lake, and painted on top of the large-scale photograph.


"This project will be the first live art installation ever presented at Rowan University Art Gallery and will introduce the work of an internationally acclaimed artist to the South Jersey regional community," notes gallery director Mary Salvante.


Semmes came to the public eye in the early 1990s at a moment of great interest in the body and a new wave of feminism. Early group shows that included her work were often about issues of gender and of representing sexual difference. Semmes began using her signature dress imagery during this time; and the dress form took on its own power and iconography within the context of her work. Part of - yet distinct from - this public context, Semmes' work develops concurrent themes of nature, territory and identity. Color, form, and texture are central to their meaning. Her work addresses functional objects and their relation to sculpture and craft.

The artist's installations are visually and psychologically metaphorical. The Feminist Responsibility Project continues her long-term investigation of sculptural space as cultural landscape.


The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog with text by Catherine Liu, Director of the UCI Humanities Center at the University of California, Irvine and an introduction by Ingrid Schaffner, Senior Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art of the University of Pennsylvania.


Admission to exhibit and reception is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 10 am to 5 pm, and Saturday, 12 to 5 pm. For more information, call 856-256-4521 or visit Rowan University Art Gallery is located on the lower level of Westby Hall on the university campus, Route 322 in Glassboro, NJ.


Rowan University Art Gallery offers an annual season of solo and thematic group exhibitions of contemporary art in a variety of media. It specifically aims to showcase the talents of artists who live in New Jersey, in addition to inviting world-class artists to share their work within the state of New Jersey.


This project is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.