NEW YORK, NY.- The Jewish Museum
presents new paintings by artist Eliza Douglas on view in the Museums Lobby from May 4 through October 21, 2018.
Eliza Douglas (b. 1984, New York) lives and works in Berlin and New York. She creates precariously balanced compositions that teeter between realism and abstraction, balletic grace and slapstick humor. The new works created for the Jewish Museum lobby, Shadow and Light and Blood and Bones (both 2018, oil on canvas), are part of a series begun in 2016, and titled with lines from the poems of Dorothea Lasky.
In each canvas, expertly rendered hands are connected by a network of outlandishly long, gesturally painted shirtsleeves. Douglas typically serves as the model for these body parts and clothing, creating an oblique form of self-portrait. Her slippery approach to depicting herself suggests that there is always a gap between how we envision ourselves and how we are perceived by others.
Douglas touches on the legacy of her great-grandmother Dorothy Wolff Douglas in these latest works. Alongside her own hands, the artist paints those of her aunt Carolyn, Wolff Douglass granddaughter and Douglass only link to her great-grandmother. From 1924 to 1951, Wolff Douglas was a professor in (and eventually the chair of) the Smith College economics department, where she was a mentor to the feminist author and activist Betty Friedan. She lived with her partner of 30 years, Katherine DuPre Lumpkin, a sociologist who examined race relations in the American South. The two women broke cultural and academic boundaries, influencing the progressive politics of the period. At the height of McCarthyism, the U.S. anti-communist panic in the early 1950s, Wolff Douglas was called to testify before the Un-American Activities Committee of the House of Representatives. She lost her job, and both women were forced to suppress their scholarly contributions. In Shadow and Light and Blood and Bones, Douglas poetically restores this lost history.
The exhibition is organized by Kelly Taxter, Associate Curator, The Jewish Museum.