Girlwork: Exploring themes beyond the feminine

There are a myriad of ways the world tries to define the female experience. Then there are all the ways on top of that the world tries to define the work of female artists. In Girlwork, on view at Flight Gallery, eight women artists reclaim what it means to be, simply, an artist. Featuring Abby Hinojosa, Barbara Miñarro, Brittany Ham, Casey Galloway, Jacqueline Saragoza McGilvray, Jesse Ruiz, Nicole Poole, and Rebekah Hurst, the show combines a multitude of mediums and styles that go beyond exploring themes of womanhood and femininity. A theme that, according to curator Audrey LeGalley, is underlying and ties their artwork together, but does not exclusively set the tone of the exhibition as a whole. While some of the content and materials arc back towards the female experience and art historical references of womanly “craft” art, there are issues present in the exhibition that go beyond that. 

“Yes, there are these themes of femininity and womanhood but there are also these adjacent ideas that are just human. Because we’re just people. I feel like an issue with girl shows is that they can be perceived as kind of one tone. That’s what I wanted to break down with this show. I wanted to show complexities and layers of dealing with issues of femininity and everything else.”

Among the other conversations occurring in the show are physical intimacy, immigration, familial remembrances, and more. Some of the artwork is created using what some would call “traditional” female materials often associated with craft arts (i.e. textiles, flowers, beads, and so on). If the notion of associating these materials solely with female artists is absolute bullshit to you, well, it is to me too on some levels. The idea that women can only be successful with these materials is ridiculous. Simultaneously, women can create artwork in whatever medium they want. Their selection of materials should not undermine the quality or content of their work. Just as there are different ideas centering around what it means to be feminist or what it means to be a woman, if you’re under the notion that this show is about a singular female experience, you’re wrong. Just like true equality is about letting women be exactly who they want to be (whether that includes being feminine or not), this exhibition shows the intricacies of being human and being a woman. 

Nicole Poole – Nicole Poole’s artwork in Girlwork is an incredibly minimal and intimate piece that utilizes transparent thread gridded and pulled across a square of ash wood. Titled Ode To Agnes Martin One, the work is honoring the work of Agnes Martin, an artist that pushed the boundaries of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism in the 1960s. Nicole Poole is an artist and creative professional currently working in San Antonio, Texas. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Poole earned a B.B.A. in Marketing and Communication from Eastern Michigan University before relocating to San Antonio in 2008. In 2018 she earned a B.F.A. and B.A. in Art History and Criticism from The University of Texas at San Antonio. During her time at UTSA, she was a recipient of the Mellon Humanities Pathways Fellowship, the Elton Smith Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Art, and the Gloria Galt Endowed Scholarship in Art. 

Barbara Miñarro – Barbara Miñarro’s work in this exhibition is a collection of brightly beaded forms that invoke memories of childhood, home, and loss. Like much of the artwork featured in this show, the cheery exterior of Miñarro’s work disguises a deeper trauma. In La escalera, vibrant, plastic beads are plated together to form a ladder that drapes from a supportive beam and falls to a pool on the floor. The ladder represents the home that many immigrants hope to reach, but as we’ve seen in recent events, often the ladder is unsteady, breakable, and doesn’t lead anywhere. Miñarro was born in Monterrey, Mexico and currently lives and works in San Antonio, Texas. She earned a BFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2017. 

Barbara Miñarro, La escalera, 2019

Brittany Ham – At first glance, Brittany Ham’s paintings appear to be a mellow and abstract study of female life. With loose marks forming the figures and their environment, and the selection of a pastel palette, we encounter a seemingly idyllic setting. However, Ham is actually challenging how traditional painting and portraiture of women has been captured by the male gaze for centuries, depicting beautiful women surrounded by nature, bathing and placed in unnatural poses. Ham is depicting twenty-first-century women in an unapologetically genuine fashion. 

Brittany Ham, Spin Cycle Watcher, Forest Preener, Window Peeper, 2019

Casey Galloway – Casey Galloway’s two fiber pieces, Pattern in the Path and Random Acts #4 provide a formal addition to the group exhibition. LeGalley selected Galloway’s work due to its materiality and formality, allowing the meticulous execution and hand dyed cotton speak for itself. Casey Galloway holds a BFA in Fiber from the University of North Texas and is the Fiber Department Coordinator at Southwest School of Art. Along with being a visual artist, Casey is dedicated to handmade and naturally dyed functional work. 

Casey Galloway, Pattern in the Path, 2019

Rebekah Hurst – Rebekah Hurst deals with ideas of womanhood in a very direct way, using pieces of the female body to transcend beyond what typical materials can do. In Passage I, II, III, Hurst utilizes menstrual blood to draw very sporadic lines across a slab of raw wood. The blood has dried to a dark red, thicker in certain parts than others, and resembles a very Minimalist mountain range or countryside. LeGalley admires the brutal interaction between the selected materials and appreciates the irony of these conceptual pieces reflecting Abstract Expressionism and the male painters that created them. Rebekah Hurst (1998) is an interdisciplinary artist based in San Antonio, Texas. In 2016, she began earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media with minors in Museum Studies and Art History at The University of Texas at San Antonio. 

Rebekah Hurst, Passages I, II, III, 2019

Jacqueline Saragoza McGilvray – The two photographs by Jacqueline Saragoza McGilvray, Braids and Take it back, are from her series Sisterly. Originating from her experience being pregnant and giving birth, this series explores the relationships between, yes, sisters, but more than that, the relationships we have as human beings and how they mutate over time. McGilvray’s focus is particularly on human interaction and presence (or the lack thereof). In Braids, we see one woman braiding another’s hair, an image that makes many women reminisce on their own mothers, sisters, or female friends breading their hair as a child. This act, however, becomes less common as we grow up. Partly, perhaps, because it’s something we learn to do ourselves. Also, because touching another person’s hair is a very intimate act and these intimate acts that are innocent and welcomed when we are children become strange and uncomfortable when we are adults. McGilvray earned an MFA in Photography and Integrated Media from Ohio University and a BFA in Photography from Texas State University. She is currently working as the Curator and Exhibitions Manager at Blue Star Contemporary.

Jacqueline Saragoza McGilvray, Braids, 2018

Abby Hinojosa – Abby Hinojosa’s I love you so much is a delicate and beautiful tribute to her late grandmother. Using vintage doilies from her grandmother’s home, Hinojosa has embroidered the words mija, baby, and pansecita in the center of each doily, accompanied by simple stitching of flowers, greenery, or hearts. Hinojosa is a Mexican-American fiber artist from San Antonio, Texas who is currently living and working in Austin, Texas. She earned her BFA in Fibers & Textiles from Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2017. Working in both fiber and ceramic mediums, her work explores identity and memory as a way to express the nostalgia associated with everyday life. 

Abby Hinojosa, I love you so much, 2019

Jesse Ruiz – Colors and forms are the primary subjects of Jesse Ruiz’s drawings, collages, watercolors, animations, and paintings. Her two pieces in Girlwork follow in this vein. LeGalley stated the visual importance of her work in the show, representing the broad way in which female artists work. Jesse earned an MA and MFA in 2014/2015 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated from Barnard College-Columbia University in 2011 with a BA in Philosophy and attended San Antonio College for fine arts courses in 2009. 

Girlwork will be on view at Flight Gallery with an opening reception happening tonight, Friday, July 5th from 6-10pm

Flight Gallery

112R Blue Star 

San Antonio, TX 78204


Author: Casie Lomeli

Casie Lomeli is one of the Unfiltered San Antonio co-founders. With a background in art history and business, Lomeli is currently focused on design, curation, and hopping from art event to art event.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.