Chapter 5: River
new works by Nancy Friedemann-Sànchez
curated by Risa Puleo
Opening Reception: September 8
On View: September 8 - October 14
chapter 5: River
Lincoln, Nebraska-based artist Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez explores the experience of living between cultures and languages. The artist uses aspects of storytelling–fables, chapters of novels, and museum displays–to form a structure for her evolving bodies of work. In her exhibition Chapter 5: River, large-scale ink drawings and small sculptures reveal multiple perspectives surrounding contemporary circumstances that have been disentangled from their colonial histories. Raised in Bogotá, Colombia, the artist is attuned to historic and ongoing relationships of indigenous, displaced, and colonial cultures in the Americas, and the power structures that determine which of these narratives are included in history books. Friedemann-Sánchez explores the underrepresented histories of women, indigenous and enslaved peoples, supported by research of traditional objects and cultural practices at national history museums in North and South America. This exhibition features life-sized drawn figures depicting the social hierarchies of mixed racial and ethnic identities in Colombia, feminine lacework patterns painted into a border riverscape of heroic scale, and small objects conveying practical knowledge passed across cultures. Together, these different forms weave a rich and complicated tale of diaspora, migrancy, and power.
This exhibition is curated by Risa Puleo, Curator-in-Residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. The curatorial residency provides the opportunity to work alongside residency and curatorial staff, actively contributing to the overall vision of the organization's renowned exhibition program. As an integral member of the Bemis Center’s Artist-in-Residence Program, Puleo stimulates intellectual discourse surrounding contemporary art practice through studio visits, knowledge-sharing workshops, and other organized programs with fellow artists-in-residence. She also serves as a part of the cultural fabric of Greater Omaha, as a professional resource for local artists and arts professionals, and as an ambassador of the Bemis Center in the community. This program is the first of its kind in Nebraska.
About the Artist
In her work Nancy Friedemann deliberately manages an economy of materials. Her large scale drawings alude to Minimalism and the Pattern and Decoration Movement but explicitly explore the experience of identity, memory and gender.
Nancy Friedemann has a masters degree from New York University; a BFA from Otis Art Institute and undergraduate studies from La Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.
Recent Individual exhibitions include: Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, Miami; Collette Blanchard Gallery, New York; Frost Museum, Miami; Galeria Diners, Bogotá; Cheryl Pelavin Fine Arts, New York; Sheldon Memorial Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska; Queens Museum of Art, New York; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Panamá.
Wanda D. Ewing Gallery
The Wanda D. Ewing Gallery is dedicated to the Omaha artist, educator, and founding Union for Contemporary Art partner who passed away in 2013. Ewing’s work ranged from traditional print media to painting, sculpture, and fiber arts, and was influenced by folk-art aesthetics and the depiction—and lack thereof—of African-American women in popular culture and the canon of art history. Throughout her career, she represented the connections between autobiography, community, and history, often with a biting, comical edge.
Born and raised in Omaha and educated around the United States, both the artist and her work traveled around the globe: she felt strongly about the fact that where one has been in the past—literally and figuratively—affects how one proceeds in the future. This often led her to historical representations of women in popular and folk expressions, such as pin-ups, beauty advertisements, “Mammy” dolls, and “exotic” figurines, all of which promote sometimes powerful, sometimes problematic ideals of womanhood into which she often projected herself. In sometimes-humorous, sometimes-serious appropriations of works by white, male artists from Western art history she similarly, meaningfully recast the figures in ethnic and gendered configurations that require viewers to rethink the originals. In so doing, Ewing encouraged dialogue around questions of who is allowed to make, see, and be seen in visual culture, and whether the arts look like the communities we live in, challenging her audiences to believe in the transformative power of art to conjure images where people might be themselves wherever they can see themselves.