Thursday, October 02, 2008
  Uncommon Beauty: Opening Reception and Artists' Talk
JUROR: Sarah Tanguy, independent curator, critic and ART in Embassies Program Curator
ARTISTS: Kay Chernush, Mary Coble, Frank Hallam Day, Jason Horowitz, Lucian Perkins and Athena Tacha

"…The six artists in Uncommon Beauty peel away taboos and biases to tackle the underpinnings of desire and self-worth. By isolating conventional loci of corporeal and ornamental beauty, their photographs and videos reveal a charged intersection of strength, beauty, and identity, with implications both personal and cultural. Alternate perspectives emerge that move beyond victimization and acceptance of fads to empowerment and liberation of the individual. While approaches to the subject vary, the power of transformation in each project fuels a tension between outer and inner beauty. None of them are set-ups or constructed realities, reflecting the artists’ self-conscious lens of raw honesty…" -Sarah Tanguy, juror

Please note: “Uncommon Beauty” exhibits photographs with adult content that may not be suitable for children. Parental discretion is advised.

Kay Chernush

Kay Chernush speaks about her work during the Artists' Talk.

Kay Chernush presents a series of self portraits that were created in an effort to renew a sense of beauty after a double mastectomy. "…Despite years of rebelling against such conventional notions of beauty, I was forced to confront my own vanity along with the fear of my own mortality…I used camera, computer, direct body scans and overlays to acquaint myself with my reconfigured body…" -Kay Chernush

Kay Chernush (left) converses with fellow artist Lucian Perkins (right). Artwork from left to right: "Reflection, Post-Op", "AC+T" and "Side Effect".

"Full Circle" hangs behind the artist and a guest.

"Fallout" by Kay Chernush.

Mary Coble

Mary Coble is a performance artist whose work reveals social stereotypes, especially those dealing with sexuality. "My goal is to make people question themselves, each other and our experience as a community that is part of a larger world. For Blood Script I chose 75 of those hateful terms and had them tattooed, without ink, onto the front portion of body in a very ornate script. After each word was completed, watercolor paper was pressed against the fresh incision and a blood impression was created. As a hate speech amassed on my flesh, the wall beside of me also filled with the hate speech." – Mary Coble

Mary Coble in front of "Blood Script".

Ellipse Arts Center Curator, Cynthia Connolly, modeling her 'photographic skirt' in front of Mary Coble's "Blood Script Performance Documentation".

Frank Hallam Day

While Traveling in Ethiopia, Frank Hallam Day noticed many hand-painted roadside signs advertising beauty salons. Intrigued by how the images were influenced by other cultures and seemingly foreign ideas of beauty, Day began a series of photographs that document these notions of ‘glamour’ amidst their desert surroundings. "The women represented are often ethnically indeterminate: sometimes clearly Caucasian, sometimes Asian. When they do resemble Ethiopians, their hair and clothing clearly reflect exotic foreign styles; they have bouffant hairdo’s, they wear white gloves and twirl strands of pearls in their fingers. In the poor farming towns and villages where I photographed these signs one suspects there isn’t much pearl twirling going on." – Frank Hallam Day
"Ethiopian Beauty Salon #71".

Jason Horowitz

The artist in front of "Gia No. 2".

Jason Horowitz’ incredibly zoomed in and blown up ‘slices’ of the human body, draw attention to enlarged pores, hair follicles, blood vessels around an eye and other seemingly mundane parts of our body that go unnoticed. These extreme views demand attention and at times leave the viewer blushing. "Playing with the tension between attraction and repulsion, the images reveal a hyper-realistic amount of detail about the subject and explore the relationship between photographic representation and painterly abstraction, the formal elements in tension with the emotional content of the subject matter. Their scientific/medical point-of-view is balanced by the intimate, personal, and sometime sensuous nature of the subject matter." – Jason Horowitz

"Gia No. 2" by Jason Horowitz.

"AnuRa No. 3" by Jason Horowitz.

Lucian Perkins

Widely known for his Pulitzer Prize winning body of photographs, Lucian Perkins has shifted over to video and mulitimedia work that compliments his ongoing love for traditional photography. Juror, Sarah Tanguy describes his piece Divine Divas as, “a humorous riff on the popular urban fairytale, Sex in the City. Asking which came first, the divas or the series, the multimedia project explores how a show can generate a group experience that validates individual feelings” – Lucian Perkins

Lucian Perkins speaks about his video, "Divine Divas" at the Artists' Talk.

Athena Tacha

Athena Tacha (right) points out the changes in her appearance over time

Athena Tacha’s work for this exhibition is a dedicated series of portraits documenting her aging process over the course of 36 years. A dramatic installation spanning an entire wall displays her almost scientific approach. "Looking at my face over the gap of some 40 years, I look like a wreck, but this is because I was used to my earlier face. My skin’s wrinkles and sags are due to all the work I did during these year. Would I give up everything I accomplished to have back my youthful beauty? No! And if I live long enough, I may acquire a new, different beauty." – Athena Tacha

"36 Years of Aging: 1972-2007".

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Uncommon Beauty runs through December 13, 2008. Please note, we are closed the week of Thanksgiving and we close at 4pm on Friday, October 17.

Don't miss our upcoming events!


ART EYES HAPPY HOUR: Friday, November 7, 7–9pm
All are welcome to personally interact with select Uncommon Beauty artists as we connect the Deaf and Visual Arts communities. Art Eyes is designed to create dialogue, art critique amongst peers and interpretation of artworks. Our mission is to empower the Deaf community and to become more involved with the Visual Arts. Targeted audiences include all artists, art lovers and the art-curious. ASL interpreters will be present and parking is free/open late.

ASL interpreter, Grace Hetrick (left), Uncommon Beauty juror, Sarah Tanguy (center) and the originator of the Art Eyes concept, Tabitha Jacques (right).


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Ellipse Arts Center is a 3,000 square foot visual arts facility managed by Arlington Cultural Affairs, Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resourses. Our mission is to provide a diverse schedule of high quality programs in the visual arts, providing opportunities for visual artists, as well as developing an engaged and appreciative audience.

Location: Arlington, VA
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