Julie Curtiss, Robin F. Williams, Amy Yao

Robin F. Williams, Because You're Worth It, 2018. Courtesy: the artist and Various Small Fires (VSF), Los Angeles

VSF is pleased to present Mane, a selection of works by Julie Curtiss, Robin F. Williams and Amy Yao, three female artists whose studio practices redefine femininity by turning the traditional male gaze on its head (of hair).

Elucidating the patriarchal capitalization and sexualization of female hair, Curtiss, Williams and Yao will each contribute two new works in which hair is both subject and medium. From the ancient Romans to 18th-century monarchs, hair was not only a symbol of status and wealth, but an indication of virility, strength and sexual prowess. The cutting of hair has been a means of control in certain cultures, yet also a radical expression of protest and liberation in both 20th century fashion and avant-garde social movements.

Two new paintings by Curtiss explore the dissonance between the layered female psyche and the objectified female form, wherein the female mane both seduces and repulses.

And two new paintings by Williams depict lush portraits of women with luxurious locks, contorted limbs and listless expressions that draw from 1970s American shampoo advertising (which constitutes the origin of contemporary standards for coiffure care and control). On the booth’s floor, two sculptures by Yao conflate organic and synthetic materials, such as a bundle of synthetic hair infused with pheromones, as parody of the industrialized biology of desire. 

Julie Curtiss (b. 1982, Paris, France, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) holds an MFA and a BA from Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France. She has had solo exhibitions at VariousSmall Fires, Los Angeles, CA and 106 Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. Curtiss’ work has also been included ingroup exhibitions at White Cube, London, UK; Regina Rex, New York, NY; and Field Projects Gallery, New York, NY. Curtiss was the recipient of the Van Lier Fellowship through the New York Foundationfor the Arts in 2012 and has participated in the Saltonstall Arts Colony Residency Program, Saltonstall, NY (2017) and the Contemporary Art Center At Woodside Residency Program, NY (2012).

Robin F. Williams (b. 1984, Columbus, Ohio, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI. She has held solo exhibitions at P.P.O.W Gallery, New York, NY; Bard College at Simmon’s Rock, Great Barrington, MA; Space 414, New York, NY; and Jack the Pelican Presents, Brooklyn, NY. Her work has also been included in group exhibitions at The Hole, New York, NY; ARTspace, New York, NY; P.P.O.W Gallery, New York, NY; New Museum Los Gatos, Los Gatos, CA; Driscoll Babcock, New York, NY; Gallery Poulson Contemporary, Copenhagen, Denmark; Sargent’s Daughter, New York, NY; BravinLee Programs, New York, NY; Wassaic Projects, Wassaic, NY; Texas Contemporary, Houston, TX; EXPO Chicago, Chicago, IL; Woods-Gerry Gallery, Providence, RI; CSUF Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, CA; Like the Spice Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Claire Oliver Gallery, New York, NY; Grand Central Art Center, New York, NY; Space 414, Brooklyn, NY; Jack the Pelican Presents, New York, NY; L.A. Art House, Los Angeles, CA; Jack the Pelican Presents, Miami, FL; Minna Gallery, San Francisco, CA; and Lineage Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; ISB Gallery, Providence, RI. She is currently represented by P.P.O.W Gallery, New York, NY, and Various Small Fires, Los Angeles, CA. She will have a solo exhibition at Various Small Fires in 2019.

Amy Yao (b. 1977) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, and New York, NY. Selected group exhibitions include: Medusa at Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Greater New York at PS1/ MoMA in New York, Local Futures at the He Xiang Art Museum in Shenzhen, China, White Petals Surround Your Yellow Heart at Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, Eckhaus Latta: Possessed at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York. She has also held solo exhibitions at 47 Canal in New York, Indipendenza in Rome, Italy, Various Small Fires in Los Angeles, VI,VII in Norway, Audio Visual Arts in New York, New Jerseyy in Basel, Switzerland, Green Gallery in Milwaukee, WI, and Goton in Paris.