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Rebecca Stockert: “The Mystic Domestic”
By Dan Swartz
Fort Wayne Reader
Feminism has been a very powerful philosophy the world over, transforming the way that society is structured, the way we see ourselves, and the way in which we interact. The art world was a particularly fertile place for Feminism, especially in its earlier and less accepted days, when it was more radical than responsible.
Thanks to the great work of so many female artists in 20th century, opening up the art world to the idea of female artists of all backgrounds being accepted for their talent, the art world today sometimes struggles with what exactly is feminist work, and how should gender play a role in the making of their work. Feminist art followed the same waves of thought which altered the very concept of Feminism throughout the 20th century, “culminating” in what we would consider “Third Wave” or “Neo-Feminism,” which has moved beyond the rejection of traditional feminine roles, and now exists in a space which looks at all women of all colors, genders, ethnicities, and is in general much more open. Within the art world, this created artists like Janine Antoni, Catherine Opie, and Shirin Neshat.
Locally, this work has not expressed itself too much beyond Motherlode, an art collective of women artists in Northeast Indiana that has been producing shows since the early 2000s. One artist whose work has evolved a great deal over the last decade, weaving in and out of Feminist principles and concepts, is Rebecca Stockert. Stockert is a Fort Wayne based artist that has made work in ceramics, mixed media, printmaking, craft work, and more recently, studio oil painting. The content of the work has evolved but it has always kept a genuine neo-feminist perspective as the artist worked out media related issues.
In “Mystic Domestic,” a solo exhibition of Stockert’s work currently on view at Wunderkammer Company, Stockert’s work explores concepts of childhood, gender, and sexuality in sometimes whimsical and very attractive ways. Stockert’s work has an uncanny ability to pull the viewer in and make them feel very comfortable with an image before the veil of the image is pulled back and they are now stuck, having to confront the work.
“Mystic Domestic” hits the ground off running with “Love, Equality, and Plastic,” a small oil painting of two male Barbie like dolls, standing intimately close to one another, below and in front of a rainbow made of what looks like strips of fabric. The two male figures are painted in a complex and detailed way so that the viewer feels their plastic shell-like bodies by seeing the glossy glares of light coming off of each. One of the figures is Caucasian and one is African-American making this a scene of homosexual, interracial pride, and showing Stockert’s very strong Neo-Feminist roots. It should be noted that the fact that the work does not include a woman, does not make it any less Feminist, as it questions the patriarchal heteronormativity in which Feminism makes exists.
In less politically overt, but still quite interesting works, are Stockert’s watercolor on paper story book series of paintings. This large series takes the viewer on a sort of non-narrative adventure in a world where skulls grow on trees, animals become key characters, and the natural world sort of takes back the man-made. These images are made in a smaller scale, like the pages of a story book, and they ultimately give the viewer the impression of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales where they are sometimes funny and inviting, but ultimately have a peculiar twist with sometimes darker undertones. In “Suburbia”, Stockert produces an image where the viewer takes on a near voyeuristic approach from a small wooded area, seeing two homes constructed side by side in what looks to be a field. The homes are nearly identical to one another, and their chimneys are emitting smoke which swirls up into the air creating an aerial view of a suburban cul-de-sac system. The image evokes a negative future possibility for the wooded area from which the viewer has the vantage, as the land is destined to become this smokey suburban plot.
Finally, Stockert’s other distinct body of works includes what are plush stuffed figures, made of felt, to look like cutesy version of odd things like Cyclops and part animal, part figure combinations, and corresponding photorealistic paintings of them. In these works, Stockert’s remarkable painting skills shine through, impressing the viewer that although some of the content of her work is humorous and something to chuckle with, her skill is not. In “Cyclops” both a plush figure and a large scale painting of this figure are presented. These odd alien like effigies and images carry a totemic feeling, like Stockert is building up ideas and emotions in them to be exorcised, yet they simultaneously carry a cuteness, or more appropriately described as being a representation of “kawaii” the Japanese aesthetic principle.
Overall, Stockert’s work explores multiple methods of troweling through herself to create incredible works which show off Neo-Feminist principles and find new ways of viewing gender, race, sexuality, and culture.
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