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The Motherlode Group opens at Artlink with its first show in two years

“Feminine Documentation” features nearly two dozen local female artists

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


When a handful of artists got together several years ago and decided to put together an art show focusing on local female artists, they had two things clearly in mind.

The first was that a show featuring all female artists from the area was an interesting and highly-promotable concept, not one they had seen here before. The second was the idea that art openings shouldn’t be boring. Oh, and they also had a name for the show: Motherlode, which means the richest, most abundant vein of valuable material in a particular region.

Motherlode’s first show was in 2003. Hastily put together, the show was still a huge success, and they followed it up in 2004 with “Do It in Red,” a range of works all featuring (you guessed it) the color red. It was even bigger.

The secret of the Motherlode group’s success is due to a wide variety of quality work and a willingness to turn the openings for both exhibits into huge events. In other words, they weren’t afraid to put on “a show,” confident that the work was strong enough to stand on its own and wouldn’t be overshadowed by controversial material or a flashy theme.

“I believe the first couple of shows, for some reason, made people feel that this was an extremely controversial group,” says Karen Thompson, a local artist and one of the organizing members of the Motherlode group along with Marcy Adams, Mary Klopfer, and Deb Washler. “Some of the pieces in the first two shows were controversial, but not all of them. Whenever you see a good exhibit, with varied artists, that’s what you’re going to see.”

For the first Motherlode show in two years, the group has chosen to pare things down a little. The work is as strong as ever, and some of it is still controversial, but the title for the show opening April 14 and running through May 17 at Artlink is “Feminine Documentation” — a little more amorphous and abstract than, say, “Do It in Red.”

“We tried to come up with a title that left the theme open, but wanted to make a statement about the work in general being of a feminine source,” says Marcy Adams, one of the founders of Motherlode, explaining the show’s title. “To us, the artwork is a documentation of who you are as a human being, and what you’re observing, and so forth. It just seemed to tie in very well.”

For “Feminine Documentation,” the organizers of Motherlode solicited work from nearly two dozen local female artists. They wanted to include a number of younger artists beside some more experienced people. “We have stronger, older female artists who have been around and done a lot of work, and been through the wringer in some cases, and put them together with these younger artists as a learning process,” explains Adams. “Not only learning about how to make the work, but how to sell it, get it in galleries, and so forth.”

The work in the show includes sculpture, printmaking, painting drawing, water colors, photography, and mixed media. “Some of the work is challenging, some of it is heartfelt, and some of it is very sentimental,” says Thompson. “It’s work with a message, hopefully. It’s things that women would like to say, and instead of writing or singing or dancing, they’ll be showing us their visual art.”

“Some are just great artists who happen to be female, some of them touch on the subject of femininity,” adds Mary Klopfer of the show’s selection. Klopfer’s contribution is a sculpture of a Shiva-type figure from Hindu religion. “This figure is kind of like an empowerment-type figure. I like her because she’s a destroyer. But she’s a destroyer in a good way.”

And as in any diverse show, some of the work could be considered controversial. “You’re going to see some stuff that… it’s going to be hard to get out of your head,” says Marcy Adams. “It’s not going to match your couch. And then there’s some of it that is absolutely gorgeous, beautiful. I like that it’s across the board. I like that some of the stuff deals with more harsh issues, and some of it doesn’t. I think it’s good to have that variety.”

Actually, the Motherlode group seems less interested in generating controversy than encouraging local artists to network, organize, and learn from each other. To that end, the show also includes a forum which takes place on May 4 at Artlink, where artists can bring their work in and talk with some of the people who are some of the top female artists in the community. Thompson says these sorts of meetings and discussions are important for all artists, male or female. “I don’t think women artists have it any easier or harder than men,” she says. “I’m coming at this from simply a social point of view, not from a talent or inherently artistic genius either men or women have. It’s just that I think women really communicate really well with each other, I think they do it more anyway in life, not just artistically. Getting together for women is not something they have to make a special time to do. I think it’s something very easy and natural to them. We love talking to each other, and love to see what the other person is doing. The ultimate thing is to get women to make more art, or at least exhibit it, because there’s a lot of art being made that isn’t exhibited.”

Motherlode: Feminine Documentation
April 14 – May 17, 2006
437 East Berry
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Opening reception: April 14, 7 – 9pm
(260) 424-7195

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