On View: May 10 - June 14, 2014
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 10, 6-8pm
In her first solo exhibition with Civilian Art Projects, Amy Hughes Braden presents new work from a prolific studio practice where she tests ideas and techniques dealing with appropriation, ironic humor, portraiture, and her role as a female artist in a still male-dominated art world. The title “Are You Gonna Eat That?” -- a reference to a crass comment that literally takes something off of another’s plate, or, more obliquely, asks if one is going to accept what one has been dealt -- indicates both the playfulness with which she approaches this body of work as well as the subtle messaging underlying it.
Incorporating painting, collage, works on paper, video, and minimalist sculpture, Braden’s process is rooted in experimentation; not just thinking about ideas and then shelving them, as is too often the case with women artists. According to Braden, “It seems that there are more successful male artists despite the fact that more females graduate from art school. I recently learned from an art professor that the difference was that male artists executed all of their ideas (not to the fullest extent, but they tried everything). Apparently female artists were much more likely to decide their idea wasn’t good or wouldn’t work before physically trying it out. So I don’t want to go around saying I’m going to make a piece or think about making a piece. I want to just execute. Critiquing can come later.”
Braden’s work considers feminism and relationships, fame and value, appropriation and homage to famous and not-so-famous artists and historical figures. The new pieces appropriate the works of Richard Prince (Joke paintings), John Baldessari’s text pieces, and the visage of the ultimate male artist, Jackson Pollock. While some works are direct responses to her male predecessors, Braden endeavors to push forward: Employing techniques learned from them, while moving beyond the initial conversation.
In the Prince and Baldessari pieces, Braden is challenging what she calls the “big swinging dicks” of the art world. Yet, by appropriating the appropriators, she casts herself into the art history river without taking herself too seriously. She is thus exploring identity and ownership while placing herself and her work in context with what has come before. “Are You Gonna Eat That?” then is primarily about experimentation, puzzling through new ideas, and a female artist’s role in the world, while not getting too bogged down in art theory.
Braden’s work has been on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Project 4 Gallery, Artisphere, The Athenaeum, Hillyer Art Space, DC Arts Center, and in various DIY exhibits in the DC area. She is a member of the Flat File program at Transformer; the art subscription service Project Dispatch; and the artist’s collective Sparkplug, a facet of DC Arts Center. Alongside her solo career, Braden also makes collaborative work, usually in the form of installations with local artists Alex Braden, Zaki Ghul, and Yassine El Mansouri. She graduated from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in 2011.