“Girlhood” Exhibit Honors Women’s History Month

By Jennifer L. Warren

BEACON – “Oh the Possibilities.”

The catchy namesake is worn by a series of 24 digital images of well-known women….during their childhood, created by Marcy B.Freedman.

One is of Michelle Obama. Another carries Serena Williams’ face. While still another is a youth shot of Jennifer Loez. Regardless of who the female is, each one serves as an inspirational model of the “possibilities afforded to young girls today. It is also one of several exhibits currently on display at the Annual Women’s History Month Exhibit Show.

Freedman’s piece (along with the others) capture a period of excitement, innocence, and untapped potential and wonder. And, in many ways, they encapsulate the vision of the Curator, Bibiana Huag Matheis, of the Women’s Show, currently on display through Easter Sunday, at Beacon’s Howland Cultural Center. She, along with many of the artists, were on hand Saturday at the Opening. Curating her fifth show at the authentic Beacon site, Huag Matheis, leading last year’s potent and successful 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage Exhibit, was excited to once again return to Howland for yet another March Show.

This year, her daughter came up with the title of “Girlhood,” as a catalyst for the 30 female artists, who were immediately inspired to get to work.

“Many went directly to childhood experiences, memories, what they knew,” recalled Huang Matheis about revealing the “Girlhood” theme. “The artists really poured their souls out about their childhoods, so I’m hoping to send a positive message about the possibilities of what you can achieve as a girl; the key is to enjoy your time in girlhood because you only have one.”

Whether it was via vision, memory or a personal connection, using any one of a host of mediums, including; paintings, photographs, sculpture, ceramic, fabric art, assembly, drawing or more, each one of the women artists in the Show unveil a certain precious vulnerability, presenting role models from their youth, depicting culture media folks, or revealing a memorable time with a close family member or friend. The pieces, resonating with their own life stories, laden with loss, emotion, struggle, and joy transcend their different generational backgrounds which span back to World War II. It also serves to unite the wide spectrum of their varied, home locations, including; the Hudson Valley, New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut and even Europe.

One of those artists is Leonie Castelino from Mahwah, New Jersey. Practicing in the Bojagi genre, a form inspired by ancient Korean art. Castelino has two pieces of Sculpture in Textile on display. Her second time exhibiting her work at Howland, Castelino was all smiles to have the special spot once again house her art.

“This is one of the most beautiful buildings with its tradition and history; it has a very intimate, warm, close setting,” said Castelino. “This Show is wonderful because it’s for Women’s History Month, so to be a part of a group of artists who inspire each other is just so nice. She will have her third opportunity to show her work at Howland in May when she returns for the Asian-American Show, which will showcase pieces from five different artists from several parts of Asia.

Another artist, Beacon’s own, Sharon Watts has an Installation of Cabinet of Quassed Curiousity on display. Containing memorabilia from her childhood, much of which was a catalyst for emotionally-charged, repressed memories, Watts was focused upon some deep, intense, cathartic- and at times- even painful objectives with her piece.

“When you are a little girl, sometimes the many questions you have never get answered, and then you don’t know exactly which ones to ask, so this can lead to fear,” explained Watts.

“When I was growing up, I was afraid to ask questions about anything serious, such as upsetting subjects, such as my father dying from electrocution.” She added, “My installation shows pieces from the era that show that difficulty of expression, mixed up with the many questions I still have to this day.”

Howland’s Gallery hours are Friday-Monday, from 1-5pm. With the wide range of pieces, crafted by women from all generations, a host of ethnic backgrounds, a bevy of residences, and an assortment of media as well as philosophies on the theme of “Girlhood,” the exhibits offers something for all types of viewers. Regardless of the multitude of differences and variety the Show affords, it’s common denominator cannot be denied.

“This Show is truly important because it allows us as women to have a voice,” said Larchmont artist Jody Harrow. “With the MeToo Movement happening, that is more important now than ever, especially for our young people to see, that they can become anything they want.”

“Oh the Possibilities.”

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