Fought Under the Collar

What is a collar? It’s a part of the figurative work shirt, a socio-economic idiom used to show class status: blue or white. It works as a device to control your pet, represents a place to grab your misbehaving child, or signifies cornering someone in conversation. It’s also a fashion accessory. All these interpretations, and probably many more, are relevant in “Women Collared for Work,” an art exhibit at the Coral Springs Museum of Art showcasing the work of eight women artists.

The brainchild of curator and contributing artist Judith Schwab, “Women Collared for Work” has been nine years in the making. “It was kind of like a bucket-list thing,” says Schwab. “When I got into my 60s I said, ‘All my life I’ve wanted to dedicate a body of work to women and if not now, when? And how do I find an original idea?’” She drew inspiration from a Libby Sofer exhibit in which the artist used collars to demonstrate the idea of status in the workplace. Schwab, who had a background in fashion, thus began researching.

Eventually realizing the project was too large to tackle alone, Schwab approached eight women she had collaborated with in the past. Aside from the collar theme, the work varies considerably as each artist covers specific decades of the women’s rights movement from 1898 to 1998. Bernice Davidson uses basket-weaving techniques to sculpt three life-sized human figures, one of which is a Native American woman evoking the forced relocation of the Native population. A red shawl, signifying the collar, adorns the woman’s shoulders. Her other two figures represent the suffragist movement: one black and one white. Margo Allman’s muted calligraphic paintings address the internment of Japanese women during World War II. Deborah Stelling’s mixed media paintings incorporate quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt, and Ann Stein honors the accomplishments of Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve in the U.S. cabinet, through a collection of period objects and drawings. The exhibit’s 32 pieces also cover a range of topics not as overtly political, from women in fashion and professional female illustrators to homemakers and community leaders.

The show runs through August 15 at the Coral Springs Museum of Art, located at 2855 Coral Springs Dr. in Coral Springs. Admission costs $5 or less. For more information call 954-340-5000, or visit csmart.org.
July 2-Aug. 15, 2009

 
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