Weekly Update – Voxxoxo we love you

This week’s Weekly has my review of Voxxoxo, Vox Populi’s third annual emerging artist show. Below is the copy with some additional pictures. More photos of the show at flickr.

Hair Force
Vox’s provocative art gets to your heart.

Jennie Thwing
Jennie Thwing. Mirror Ball, 2007. video

In its third annual emerging artists roundup, Vox Populi continues to be ground zero for ambitious young artists trying out quirky voices. The juried 24-person show “Voxxoxo” is full of solid work, some of it great.

Adam Parker Smith
Adam Parker Smith. Marvin Gaye Had Me Feeling Like Black was the Thing TO Be. fabric and paper.

There are darkly humorous works about hair, one very weird stuffed animal with its shiny black butt in the air, and a girl-in-a-bubble performance video that’s a dream. There are also some dead serious and quite amazing paintings, photo-collages, ceramics, sculptures and cut-paper works. This more traditional work demonstrates that young minds are finding ways to imbue old-fashioned art strategies with new zip.

Samantha Hill
Samantha Hill. Tool of Conformity. hair stove, styrofoam, steel comb and towel

It’s a big show with many artists represented by more than one work. Hair artists Samantha Hill and Felicia Megginson poke fun at our fetishistic devotion to hair and transform the discussion of locks, tresses and manes into one about race, class and gender. New York artist Ellen Gallagher has long used hair to discuss issues of race and identity, and it’s great to see these young artists work the territory in a slightly different way.

Felicia Megginson
Felicia Megginson. Meditation on Medusa, variation 1, 2004 ink and colored pencil on vellum.

Hill’s meat grinder for straightening a frizzy afro into spaghetti ribbons makes you laugh and then blanch as you absorb the loaded social commentary about conformity. Megginson’s series of fanciful hair drawings evokes beauty salon and barbershop signs advertising the latest black hairdos. Her Soul on Ice drawing depicts a mound of sculpted hair with a raised fist in the middle. The references to both Eldridge Cleaver’s book of the same name and imprisoned African-American men are unmistakable.

Francoise Duresse
Francoise Duresse. Blue Eyes, mixed media on wood, photos.

It’s impossible to give everyone a shout out, but here are a few. Francoise Duresse’s menacing portraits painted over a collage of tiny elementary school student photos are angry beyond anything I’ve seen by a young artist in Philadelphia. The work is ambitious, and its subjects—race, identity and stereotyping (the works evoke mugshots)–are well-played. At the cool end of the spectrum, Jennie Thwing’s video of life seen through a crystal ball is mesmerizing. Amze Emmons’ painted landscapes have a bleached effect and disjointed content that resonate.

Erin Arnold
Erin Arnold. Oh Honey, acrylic and oil on canvas

Erin Arnold’s modernist painting with stripes, pots and plants updates Matisse for the Ikea age.

Jaime Treadwell. Blue tarp, oil on panel
Jaime Treadwell. Blue tarp, oil on panel

Jaime Treadwell’s hot pink landscapes echo Lisa Yuskavage’s color while avoiding the buxom baggage. Joseph Borelli’s pink carved foam figure, Adam Parker Smith’s embroidered and stitched homage to Marvin Gaye, and Natasha Bowdoin’s cut-paper word piece are virtuosic and thought-provoking.

Philadelphia may no longer be the fifth largest city in the country, but its art scene is top tier. If you see only one show this summer, make this the one.

Through July 29. Vox Populi, 319A N. 11th St., third fl. 215.238.1236.