Sue Johnson, professor of art, exhibits her work in a solo exhibition titled, “Hall of Portraits from The History of Machines,” at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, August 14, 2020 to February 7, 2021.
Johnson’s “Hall of Portraits from The History of Machines” project constructs a disquieting satire that invites a deeper look at the taxonomy of the representation of women. As a visual proposition, the amalgam of works creates a parallel world that is simultaneously contemporary, historical and fictional. The project proposes an alternate pictorial history in which two objects of desire become one — the household convenience object and the emergent female form. In looking back at the mid-20th century, the artist identifies this era as a cornerstone in the construction of the modern woman who begins at this time to be idealized as sharing attributes with objects of domestic convenience, efficiency, and planned obsolescence. Mining the archive of consumer culture artifacts and using her own photographs of historical objects that she collects, labor-saving domestic machines merge with the body, or vice-versa. The resulting digitally-collaged hybrid women seem familiar yet at the same time we know they are actually a highly fictional, patriarchal fantasy. To emphasize this artificiality, each is surrounded by a color-field made by dragging, pressing and scraping household devices through and into the paint.
Johnson is the recipient of a 2020-21 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Visual Art Fellowship. For more information, visit https://www.vmfa.museum/exhibitions/exhibitions/fellowship-exhibitions/
Additional information on “Hall of Portraits from The History of Machines,” can be found here:
Image: “Neo-Gradiva,” from “Hall of Portraits from The History of Machines,”
59" x 42", acrylic painting over print on canvas, 2019