Margaret Harrison


May 3 – May 31, 1980

Uptown Gallery

Rape, 1978,
acrylic, newspaper clippings, marker, pencil
title canvas: 12 ¼ x 96 inches
canvas: 70 x 96 inches

Rape, 1978
(detail)

From Rosa Luxemburg to Janis
Joplin
, 1977
acrylic and collage on canvas
title canvas: 12 ¼ x 96 inches
canvas: 44 ¾ x 113 inches

From Rosa Luxemburg to Janis
Joplin
, 1977
(detail)

Click here for a PDF version of the following
Press Release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 24, 1980

MARGARET HARRISON

From Rosa Luxemburg to Janis Joplin
Art Work and Studies
Homeworkers
Rape

May 3-May 31

Margaret Harrison is an English feminist and artist whose work over the past decade has dealt with different media and a range of subject matter which has established here as a leading artist in Britain. This is her first one-person exhibition in New York.

From Rosa Luxemburg to Janis Joplin presents the lives of eight women selected for their contributions to culture, but since six of them died violent deaths, they can also be interpreted as feminist martyrs who died because the roles assigned to them in a man's world became intolerable. The are: Rosa Luxemburg, the German revolutionary brutally murdered in 1919, who epitomizes political activism; Annie Oakley, selected for her success in the all male preserve of sharp shooting; Janis Joplin, a drug victim who could not withstand the pressure of being a public performer in a male-dominated industry; Bessie Smith, for her prodigious singing talent, but also because she took heavily to drink and finally bled to death after a car crash outside a 'white only' hospital which refused her admission.

The faces of these women are painted along the top of the canvas as a mini-portrait gallery of personal heroines introduced by Virginia Woolfe's famous phrase "Anonymous was a woman." Below, their achievements are given and some historical perspective with facts about the present percentage of women in public office.

Homeworkers uses photographs and documents to investigate the problems faced by a pool of cheap non-unionized, mostly female labor. These women with young children to piece work at home (i.e., they may paint toy animals, assemble fire extinguishers, carry out pregnancy tests, etc.). Homeworkers follows three particular women in detail, pointing out how the law offers them little protection. The documentation is accompanied by a collage/painting illustrating the complete schism between representation of women in the media and their lives as homeworkers. Homeworkers was first shown and used as an example by schools and college in south London, of an art work that raises questions and contains many insights about a contemporary social issue.

Rape
investigates the centuries of sexual ideology, which presents women as available, or hanging around "asking for it." The sequence on rape exposes the tensions suffered by women involved and the blind insensitivity shown to them even when rape is proven. It consists of a panel sequence of erotic nudes from famous historic paintings showing the ugly instruments of rape, such as knife, scissors, Pepsi cola bottle and verified court reports. Beneath Harrison's survey of female stereotypes come some stark facts about the treatment of rape by the law.

Art Work and Studies

New works that will be exhibited for the first time include a number of double portraits of male and female artists who counterpoint each other. For example, the works of William Wordsworth and the journals of his sister, Dorothy Wordsworth; the poet Shelly and his wife, Mary Shelly, writer of Frankenstein and, in turn, Mary Shelly's mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, known for her writings on the vindication of women's rights and her husband, William Godwin who wrote the influential book Political Justice.

Margaret Harrison studied painting at the Royal Academy School in London. She states, "During the past several years, my professional art practice has been affected by two major factors; one by my own (and my generation's) growing consciousness of our feminism and secondly, by a need to both reflect and extend the subject matter of my own work into a more realistic relationship with the problems of working people."
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Copyright 2006 Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc. Click here for more detailed information.