Girls on Film – Female identity and the media at Crane Arts

by Mireille Guy


Walking into the current exhibition in the Project Space at Crane Arts, a viewer is greeted by bright and colorful portraits that almost look like movie stills. That is because Girls on Film is a study of the relationship between painting and moving images, between pop culture and feminine identity. Artist Kate Perkins used many pieces from her recent senior thesis at University of the Arts, as well as others, to compose this show, and the result is a vibrant and engaging exhibition.

Superbass 1
Superbass #1

Perkins’ lush and vivid portraits show characters taken from stills of Bollywood movies, Korean or Taiwanese television shows or the Internet.  Painted on wood panels rather than on canvas to better reference a flat screen television or computer, the works accurately reproduce the colors and ambiance of the media. Topics covered range from romance to friendship. Perkins explains in her senior thesis that the purpose of the show is to bring together “…images of young women from a variety of cultural backgrounds, in the context of film stills and portraits, in order to explore the female construction of identity in an Internet-driven world.” She is not trying to paint her interpretation of this pop culture and media, but rather to represent it in the most accurate of lights — its immediate perception.

Superbass 2
Superbass #2

Most notable in the show are four paintings of pop star Nicki Minaj taken from her music video “Superbass.” The works, titled “Superbass #1” through “Superbass #4,” exemplify all of the themes mentioned earlier: lush colors, pop media, femininity. What makes these paintings even more interesting is that Perkins has created an animated slideshow using a bar code scanning app to make the animation available by smart phone at the exhibit. I simply had to take a picture of the barcode next to the paintings to download the animation. To see Perkins’s animation, click here.

Superbass 3
Superbass #3

By animating her paintings, Perkins successfully furthers her theme of the high volume saturation of pop culture into art as well as across our society today.

Superbass 4
Superbass #4

Crane Arts, by the way, which I had not been to before, is a great space for artists, as it has many exhibition spaces as well as studios and creative resources.

Girls On Film is up until August 31. Perkins is also featured in a two-person exhibit with Rebecca Tennenbaum, opening Sept. 7. at Goldilocks Gallery, 723 Chestnut St., 2nd floor.