Visiting artist Jennifer Henriques Phillips will present her series of fine art prints entitled “Building Babylon (is woman’s work)” at Corrigan Gallery from April 2 through April 30 with an opening reception held on April 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. The gallery is located at 62 Queen Street in downtown Charleston. This is Phillips’ first solo show.
The artist explains “Building Babylon (is woman’s work)” consists of three elements: The title of the series, the iconography within the 32 monotypes and the non-verbal titles of each piece. This series can be approached as conceptual, inviting the viewer to integrate the disparate components into a dialogue to access for her or himself possible modes of experience. This dialogue, the prism through which the work can be seen, is intended to include both the individual monotype and the body of work as a whole. Explicit images of femaleness juxtapose metaphors of the masculine.
How does an authentic femaleness navigate the fine line that divides the perception of woman’s body as sacred/profane, adored/excoriated, protected/brutalized, idealized/marginalized? These are core, albeit not exclusive, questions I ask of my work and myself.
Babylon, the mythical, the biblical, the historical, projects a rich ground of metaphor in which today’s experience of the femaleness of being can be couched. The masculine attributes of Babylon, conqueror and lawgiver, also embrace the feminine: Babylon is the Greek variant of the Akkadian Babilu, meaning “gateway to the gods.” A place both of renowned beauty and of exile, Babylon has, throughout history, come to represent depravity and oppression.”
This series was made in collaboration with John McWilliams, photographer and Mary Walker, printmaker. A portion of sales’ proceeds from the show will go to the Center for Women.
Phillips was born in Jamaica to a Sephardi family. Her ancestors’ lives as secret Jews in Iberia and their flight from Portugal to Amsterdam and on to Jamaica in the mid-1600s, is central to her family history. Raised and educated in Jamaica and Switzerland, she attended the School of Oriental Languages in Paris then passed a decade in London, before returning to Jamaica where she worked in politics. Immigrating to the United States in the late 1970s, Phillips settled in Charleston where she graduated from the College of Charleston’s School of the Arts in 1990.
Phillips has always had an interest in voices on the margin. From childhood in Jamaica, she was aware of the economic inequities based on class and the reduced role of women objectified according to social status in traditional idealized roles of wife/mother/mistress or as domestics. Later, as assistant to the Jamaica Labor Party’s Edward Seaga, then Leader of the Opposition, Jennifer worked on the assembly of a report to Amnesty International and the OAS on the massive fraud and violence that accompanied the 1976 General Election. She recorded, by hand, the eye witness accounts of the largely poor and illiterate polling station workers from across the island who were the often themselves victims of violence. In Charleston Jennifer trained as an interviewer for Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, conducting videotaped interviews with Holocaust survivors in South Carolina.
Corrigan Gallery, now in its fifth year, is a culmination of 22 years of experience in the Charleston art market. The gallery represents more than a dozen artists in an intimate space and presents 6 to 10 shows per year with the gallery being refreshed every month. Visiting artists are included in the yearly roster with most of the artist being either Charleston natives or individuals living in Charleston. A gallery of contemporary works exploring the depth and intellect behind the drive to create, Corrigan Gallery provides a breathing space around the historic city’s traditional bent. Open six days a week and other times by appointment, the gallery can be viewed 24 hours a day at http://www.corrigangallery.com, contacted by phone 843 722 9868 or email email@example.com.
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