Kathy Aoki Speaks

After winning the Solo Exhibition Prize in The Janet Turner Print Museum’s 2014 Pushing Boundaries/Expanding Horizons, Kathy Aoki continues to do just that in her awarded exhibition, New Work/New Artist II. Her work explores and pushes up against traditional boundaries that define both the print and the printmaker as well as femininity and feminism.

In this exhibition, Aoki tests the boundaries of the print by using significant hand coloring as well as other mixed media to create work divided into four themes. These themes, inspired by art history, are comprised of prints inspired by Toulouse Lautrec as well as Hokusai, printed variously in intaglio, relief, litho—whichever best suits the (faux) historical situation of a particular print, as each theme belongs to one of Aoki’s fabricated and embellished pasts or imagined futures.

In the prints of a self-proclaimed “sneaky feminist” like Aoki, these imagined histories and futures are places where beauty becomes a mid-twentieth century call to arms, grandmothers still dress like princesses and fairies to go out, twerking is elevated by the distance created by art history and museum display, and landscapes are polluted by slicks of clumping black mascara.

These themes, while carefully balanced by humor, run the risk of alienating their audience as Aoki’s work critiques valid aspects of femininity and female experience. In these prints, one definition of femininity is made laughable, and at times a bit terrifying. Yet Aoki surely recognizes the place feminism must hold for a multiplicity of lived experiences and the need for a broadened definition of femininity itself—just as the artist benefits from broadening the definitions of print/maker in choosing from diverse techniques, methods of display, and mixed media in this exhibition.

Rather than further limiting what femininity can be, the critiques inherent to Aoki’s distinct themes instead converge as an indictment of a narrowly conceived, traditionally defined femininity just as the artist’s disparate working methods and affinity for mixed media challenge the limitations of how we define a print and its maker.

See the artist speak about her work below and learn more by visiting the Janet Turner Print Museum online or on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathy Aoki finishes "Gangnam Style."

Kathy Aoki with a selection of work from the exhibition.

Kathy Aoki, "At the Manicurist," linoleum cut with watercolor, 2012.

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Categories: Artists, Exhibitions


One Response to “Kathy Aoki Speaks”

  1. Thanks for having this forum available for the support of contemporary printmaking and its artists!