132 W 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
On View: September 29th, 2016 – November 5th, 2016
Opening Reception: September 29th, 2016, 6 – 8 PM
Gallery 151 and Wallplay present Natalie White: EXPOSED, an exhibition of work by artist and activist Natalie White, curated by Elyse Harary, consisting of a series of large scale polaroid self-portraits alongside an installation of embroidered canvases inspired by the Gadsden flag. Marking the completion of Natalie White’s march this past summer from New York City to Washington DC advocating for the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.), the work in this exhibition celebrates her ongoing dedication to social change through the platform of visual art as well as her commitment to educating individuals about the need for equal rights in America. Using herself as a subject and exposing her body as a means to propel her agenda, White’s work illustrates that when depicted by women, the female body has the potential to become a powerful weapon against the social constructs of gender.
This exhibition exists as the third in a series of shows in collaboration with Wallplay, dedicated to White’s fight for equal rights. Instant Gratification curated by Laura O’Reilly, founder of Wallplay, in the storefront space at The Hole in September 2015 which featured a daily performance piece by White, topless and enclosed in a plexiglass box in the front window with a sign stating that the E.R.A had never been passed, a fact that the majority of United States citizens are unaware of. In June 2016, Natalie White for Equal Rights was exhibited at Whitebox Gallery as a launching platform for White’s march to Washington DC in protest of the nation’s failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in 1982.
Natalie White: EXPOSED, presents a unique moment in White’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness and rally support for gender equality through her art. After the completion of her sixteen-day, 250 mile protest march in July, where White painted “ERA NOW” in red, spanning twenty feet of the capital steps, which resulted in the artist’s arrest. This exhibition marks a critical moment in White’s efforts, opening during the impending trial for her performative act of painting on the capital, attempting to symbolically write women into the constitution. White plans to defend her own case, using the courtroom as yet another discursive space to engage and educate yet another audience about the need for equal rights for women.
White continues to test the power of self-representation as a woman in her work. Through her exhibition series, she claims physical and artistic ownership of her body, securing her image as a figure of female empowerment, and uses her own image within American symbols and icons, as a literal stand-in for their lack of female representation.
This exhibition challenges the audience’s preconceived misconceptions of gender equality, in this country and in the art world. How would this work be understood had it been produced by a man? The particular works included in this exhibition, reveal the major gaps that exist in our national symbols of freedom and equality. By revising and recreating them with her own figure—embodying the star and stripes of the United States flag, or superimposing her body over the snake in Gadsden’s “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, or casting herself as a bronze memorial statue—White produces work that at once exposes the lack of female representation in this country, and imagines a world where every individual is accounted for and equally protected under the law. By using her body as a way to literally speak to her audience face to face, White exposes us not only to the preconceptions of traditional art-making practices and the status and representation of women in art but to the misconceptions and lack of presence that exists in our country.