October 24 to November 20, 1991
The work of Margo Butler and Susan Madsen upon first glance seems very different, in part due to their choice in medium, but upon closer examination the viewer can find many similarities, as well as differences.
The whole premise for this how was to examine the image of women in western culture. Susan has chosen to combine northern landscape painting from the Italian Renaissance with her images of contemporary women. Fascinated with this style of painting she was troubled by the presentation of women as submissive objects, as generic personalities, and so used the landscape formula as the setting for her contemporary women. These women are strong, individual, serious and at times humorous, life-sized women with personality and strength. Margo also reaches to the past, for an incident in family more than a hundred years ago that places a woman, Margo’s great-grandmother, in the care of two men, her husband and brother, because of an unknown man, an aggressor; a situation, which strikes one as being very contemporary.
The media has in recent past has been filled with incidents of violence against women, the Montreal Massacre, and articles expressing women’s fears of being attacked, in large cities as well as small towns. A recent article expressed that 56% of Canadian women are afraid to walk at night in certain areas within a mile of their homes, afraid of an aggressor, most often a man. Susan Madsen and Margo Butler have attempted to make the viewer examine and question a culture, where in more than one hundred years the situation for women seems to have changed very little. To make us examine the roles of women and the images of women in this culture. And perhaps think about solutions or possibilities for affecting change.
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