Beverly Semmes: FRP

  • May 24, 2015 – Sep 6, 2015
  • The Bob & Lissa Shelley McDowell Gallery
Beverly Semmes, "Money", 2013, ink on magazine page, 10.5 x 7 7/8 in.
Courtesy of the Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell College Art Collection,
Grinnell, IA.

Beverly Semmes’s Feminist Responsibility Project (FRP) includes drawings, ceramics, suspended and illuminated glass sculpture, and a video work. Also included in the installation at the Weatherspoon is the large-scale installation, Buried Treasure (1994).

At the heart of Semmes’s exhibition is her commitment to feminism. Her totemic and abstract works create alternative lenses from which to see the body in relationship to domestic or natural landscapes. In a collection of works on paper made between 2004 and 2014, the artist uses rough gestural applications of ink and paint to conceal the female body as depicted in a variety of pornographic magazines. Semmes responds to the imagery by performing a personal act of feminist censorship, blotting out the literal to leave behind abstract, nuanced images that speak in a different voice. 

Semmes’s ceramic and glass works complement her drawings both visually and conceptually, and convey a graphic sensibility similar to an expansive fabric sculpture, Buried Treasure. Made of black crushed velvet, one arm of the “dress” aspect of this work snakes through half of the McDowell gallery like sensuous charcoal-hued vines. In the video, Kick (2005), the artist kicks potatoes that have been painted a reddish-pink across an icy, foreign terrain. This awkward action forms a connection to the red ceramic “pot” sculptures that appear to have been placed at random across the gallery floor.

Beverly Semmes (b. Washington, D.C.; lives in New York City) has had numerous solo museum shows including major exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus. Her work is in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. She is represented by Susan Inglett Gallery, New York.

Beverly Semmes: FRP is co-organized with the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York and Faulconer Gallery at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa.

Related programs:

Noon @ the 'Spoon Public Tour • Tue July 14 @ 12pm

Artist Talk with Beverly Semmes • Thu Sept 3 @ 6pm (doors open 30 minutes prior)

We have six galleries located on the first and second levels of the museum, view our gallery map.