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Zoe Charlton: Imitation of a Life to Open at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts
ZoŽ Charlton, Junior Varsity, 2009. Graphite and gouache on paper, 60” x 41”. Courtesy of Conner Contemporary Art, Copyright ZoŽ Charlton.

WILIMNGTON, DE.- The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts announces ZoŽ Charlton’s solo exhibition titled Imitation of a Life, on view in the Dupont I Gallery from August 14 through November 15, 2009. ZoŽ Charlton’s interests in gender and class fuel her drawings that explore social and racial interactions, and evaluate historical and contemporary visual prejudices. She draws and redraws characters in order to re-contextualize them, depicting them in strange and funny moments.

The press is invited to view Imitation of a Life on Friday, September 11, 2009, during the Art on the Town reception from 5 – 9 pm.

Zoё Charlton creates artworks in drawing, video, and sculpture that examine issues of gender and race. For her exhibition at the DCCA, she has concentrated on a series of drawings and a video that deal with the issue of “passing,” inspired by the 1934 film, Imitation of Life, in which the main character, Peola, longs for the privileges associated with whiteness. Each of Charlton’s drawings centers on a hooded woman who confronts the viewer with a sexually suggestive pose. The artist states, “In my drawings, this passing is made extreme by the attempted camouflaging of the women with Klan hoods. The provocatively posed women are further costumed in other clothing that functions to distract from their passing . . . ” For the artist, passing is seen as a complicated act that involves the use of gendered, sexualized, and “racialized” objects and poses. Charlton’s images are both deftly drawn and delicate in character, contrasting with their startling subject matter and making them purposefully disquieting.

Charlton addresses the issue of passing through the eyes of a politicized 21st-century artist. As a black woman, she explores identity through a political viewpoint that is informed not only by the Civil Rights movement, but also the writings of important critical theorists such as Simone de Beauvoir, who scrutinized the treatment of women throughout history in The Second Sex; Roland Barthes, who examined meaning in language and symbols; and Jean Baudrillard, who analyzed the erasing of distinctions between classes, genders, and races.

ZoŽ Charlton (BALTIMORE, MD) holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin and has held solo exhibitions of her work in venues including the Conner Contemporary Art and The Watkins Gallery, Washington, DC; Center for the Arts, Towson University, Towson, MD; University of North Texas Art Gallery, Denton, TX; and Clementine Gallery, New York, NY. She has also exhibited in a number of group exhibitions around the country including the Nathan Larramendy Gallery in Ojai, CA, and the Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts in Atlanta, GA. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Mellon Fund Artist Grant, the Elizabeth Scott Fellowship, and the Camille Hanks Cosby Fellowship.

Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts | ZoŽ Charlton | Simone de Beauvoir. Civil Rights | The Watkins Gallery | Washington |

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