Babe-a-licious: Uncommon women at PVCC
Because the exhibition is so beautifully hung, it’s easy to walk through “Three Fabulous Babes,” at Piedmont Virginia Community College without bothering to ask, “What the heck are these three artists doing grouped together?” Truth be told, Angi Currerri, Silvia Lizama, and Beryl Solla share almost nothing aesthetically or thematically, let alone technically.
So, why are these three artists grouped together?
According to the show’s statement, the trio met in the 1980s while studying ceramics in Florida (no, you didn’t miss anything– there are no ceramics on display). They became fast friends and joked over cocktails and ice cream that they should form a company called the Three Fabulous Babes. Although each went her separate artistic way, Solla, who now heads PVCC’s art department, decided to revive their dream with the current exhibition.
Curreri contributes 12 small scans of handmade collages. Inspired by Italian art, architecture, and sweets, the subject matter is rich, but the assemblages themselves, though competently executed, are surprisingly bland. Also, Curreri’s decision to show digital scans rather than the original pieces is baffling. Not only is the textural quality of the handwork lost to flatness, but Curreri also skips the digital possibilities for fine-tuning her compositions.
Whereas Curreri’s work is mild and contained, Solla’s three pieces burst with exuberance. Two colorful digital montages feature personal symbolism– a Dia de los Muertos string of silver skeletons represents Solla’s family in one– set amid a profusion of flowers.
Between these framed pieces, Solla presents a wall installation of wooden cutouts, entitled “Migration.” Cartoon-like winged dogs, cats, and rabbits, tropically colored and patterned with cabbages, roses, and palm trees, fly amid bones, carrots, and a party hat-wearing green skull. Recalling the whimsical aesthetic of the Memphis Group, the piece is a relentlessly cheerful rejection of death’s doom and gloom.
The standout “babe,” however, is Silvia Lizama. Her five hand-colored silver gelatin prints, depicting domestic interiors viewed through exterior windows, occupy a space somewhere between photography and drawing. By quietly calling attention to specific details–e.g. the contrast between a snarling “Beware of Dog” sign and sweet German shepherd figurines on a sill– she offers a voyeuristic and humorous glimpse of the occupants’ lives. Subtle compositional elements, like reflections in the panes and color relationships Lizama creates, add to overall effect. Riveting and exquisite, Lizama’s images are technical wonders.
Curreri, Lizama, and Solla may not have much in common, but each brings something to the table. And the visual feast is, indeed, fabulous.
“Three Fabulous Babes,” featuring work by Angi Curreri, Silvia Lizama, and Beryl Solla, is on view in the North Gallery of the V. Earl Dickinson Building. Piedmont Virginia Community College, 501 College Dr. 961-5362.