Shirley Klinghoffer: Secret Garden, Fertile Ground
Shirley Klinghoffer creates a world in which flowers blossom with vulval impressions, cast-rubber nipples bubble up from a pinkhalf-orb, and a woman’s skirt mutates into a giant black “daisy” whose forbidden fruit is protected by barbed wire. The trappingsof womanhood—whether anatomical, fashion-based, or commercial—are everywhere metamorphosed in this secret garden, afertile feminist paradise.
SHIRLEY KLINGHOFFER: Secret Garden, Fertile Ground Through the Flower February 19 – May 30, 2011 Secret Garden, Fertile Ground Shirley Klinghoffer creates a world in which flowers blossom with vulval impressions, cast-rubber nipples bubble up from a pink half-orb, and a woman’s skirt mutates into a giant black “daisy” whose forbidden fruit is protected by barbed wire. The trappings of womanhood—whether anatomical, fashion-based, or commercial—are everywhere metamorphosed in this secret garden, a fertile feminist paradise. The dozen artworks shown here are a small survey of Shirley Klinghoffer’s career from the past fifteen years. They demonstrate the artist’s quick wit and persistent optimism, as well as a sense of fantasy worthy of children’s literature. Klinghoffer likes to say she celebrates the diversity of women. She also has, throughout her career, fleshed out her concerns about contemporary society and women’s place within it. She has cast the anatomical uniqueness of women and poked fun at gender stereotypes. She has exposed the dirty little secrets and intimate details that polite society would just as soon sweep under the rug and she has gathered women during wartime into a modified “stitch-and-bitch” sisterhood to make an enormous knitted cozy for a Humvee. False measures of femininity appear here, whether Barbie or Venus. Venus Revisited presents 34 miniature “reproductions” of the famed ancient Greek sculpture Venus de Milo, each boasting a different generational ideal of a woman’s physique. The question raised is, if Venus is the gold standard of femininity and she is a moving target, how can a mere mortal ever measure up? Perhaps, Klinghoffer seems to reply, with the three-inch heels that are her most recent leitmotif. Her high-heeled-shoe sculptures demonstrate the artist’s strategy of raising awareness through either laughter or tears—by whatever means necessary. They soar brazenly on a skateboard in A Fine Balance, an appreciation perhaps of women who perform a daily balancing act—and look good doing so. Yet in the next breath, with the sculpture Paid, Klinghoffer reminds us that those symbols of status and femininity are part of the uniform of oppression for some, namely sex workers. Shirley Klinghoffer uses sculpture as a vehicle not only to celebrate diversity but to censure inequities. Hers is an approach that insists that art open the gate of the secret garden and reveal the beauty and the beast within. For, as we know from Eden, even the most well-kept garden has its serpents. - Laura Addison Shirley Klinghoffer, Paid, 2010, used womenâ€™s shoes, French antique iron crib, slumped glass, steel, 41 x 44 x 24 inches Shirley Klinghoffer, Secret Garden, 2010, vintage skirt, unique tinted cast rubber, found rusty barbed wire, 45 inch diameter x 11 inches Shirley Klinghoffer, Doormat, 1996, cast black rubber, 2 x 27 x 17 inches Shirley Klinghoffer, Intimate Sphere, 2007, resin, fiberglass, 19 inch diameter x 8 inches Shirley Klinghoffer, Venus Revisited, 50s-90s, 1996, cast stone, aluminum, 70 x 48 x 5 inches My artwork is very personal. Often I use the human body, or body parts, to convey an idea. I have consistently explored the use of a multiplicity of forms with a variety of materials, including tinted rubber, glass, wax, plaster and resins. Working with the Santa Fe Rape Crisis and Trauma Treatment Center [now Solace] for over 10 years, I have been an advocate against violence and aggression, and have promoted pride and strength for women. Recently I have enhanced and created visuals for an educational program raising awareness of â€œHuman traffickingâ€? in New Mexico. This said my art runs parallel with my life. Shirley Klinghoffer Shirley Klinghoffer, Cumulus, 2007, wax, vintage handkerchief on linen, 20 x 20 x 2 inches Shirley Klinghoffer, A Fine Balance: Heels on Wheels, 2010, collected high-heel shoes, pintail longboard skateboard, steel, 7 x 43 x 11 inches Shirley Klinghoffer, Rock-Her, 2010, restored vintage rocking chair, rubber, fabric, wood, motor, 44 x 19 x 32 inches Love Armor, 2007-2008, 15’ x 7.5’ x 6’ The Love Armor Project is a collaborative project envisioned by Shirley Klinghoffer, facilitated by Shirley Klinghoffer and Sarah Hewitt, with the participation of over seventy artists around the country. Shirley Klinghoffer, She Cradle, 2006, antique wood, rubber vulval castings, fabric, 10 x 18 x 13 inches Shirley Klinghoffer, Iris, bronze, 23 x 5 ½ x 3 ½ inches Front Cover: Shirley Klinghoffer, Code Pink, 2004, tinted cast rubber, 11 ½ x 30 x 7 inches Through the Flower www.thro u g h t h e f l o w e r. o r g