Unprepared Press Release

From Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program

For Immediate Release: December 9, 2003

UNPREPARED

December 19, 2003–February 8, 2004 The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis—The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) present the work of two Minnesota-based printmakers in a new exhibition opening December 19. “Unprepared” features artists Faye Passow and Jenny Schmid in an exhibition that serves up a dark and humorous array of neo-feminist works about family, adolescence, and the society’s expectations of women. Through their work Passow and Schmid challenge any complacency viewers might feel about history, be it personal, collective, or imposed.

For her part in “Unprepared,” Faye Passow (b. 1954) presents three series of prints. In one series titled “Fear,” the artist takes on stereotypes of goodness and presents it with a heap of trouble. For example, Passow depicts storybook families on the brink of some sort of calamity, such as a tornado or an erupting volcano. In her most personal series—a suite of black and white lithographs—Passow reveals the emotional struggles related to her family of origin. Here she tries to reconcile the stifling roles set for women in the fifties and early sixties, and expresses grief over her youngest brother, who took his life just before she departed for graduate school. So beautifully do these lyrical images evoke loss and love, it is difficult to believe that they were simply “drawn” with a razor blade by scraping ink off a litho stone.

Jenny Schmid’s double-edged work pushes viewers to reconsider their thoughts about feminism. Born in 1969, Schmid from childhood was strongly influenced by her political activist parents, who encouraged her to fully engage with the world. Earning her first degree in political science, Schmid steeps her artistic identity in her curiosity about political and social issues. Her most recent prints are fueled by her steady research into feminist non-fiction. The development of the artist’s signature figuration draws upon her study in the Czech Republic, where she learned the art of mezzo tinting, and also her subsequent experience as a Fulbright fellow in Slovakia. For example, in the series titled “Downfall of Young Girls,” Schmid presents adolescent icons surrounded by serpentine banners with messages of warning.

Passow and Schmid are passionate about lithography for its great tradition as a tool for populist social commentary, the physical work it demands, and for the exquisitely lush and moody tones it can achieve. They appreciate the precisely layered logic of its process and are inspired by great printmakers, past and present with Passow looking to Rembrandt and Wanda Gag, and Schmid to Francisco Goya, Jose Posada, and Sue Coe.

Both artists are fascinated by and often utilize the allegorical pictorial strategies of medieval art. And they are happy to carry forward the practice of using satire or humor to finesse the viewer into facing difficult subjects.

“Unprepared” is produced and presented by the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP), an artist-managed curatorial department of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and is made possible by generous support from Jerome Foundation. An opening reception will be held Thursday, December 18, 7 to 9 p.m. “Unprepared” will be on view through Sunday, February 8, 2004. The reception and exhibition are free.

Related Events

“Critics Trialogue”: A panel discussion that features visual arts critics Clea Felien, Valerie Valentine, and Amanda Vail, with artists Faye Passow and Jenny Schmid. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota Artists Gallery Sunday, February 8, 2004, 2 p.m. Free and open to the public.

The “Critics Trialogue” series is co-presented by VACUM (Visual Arts Critics Union of Minnesota). This series brings together visual art critics, artists, and the public for a three-way conversation about art and art criticism.

Studio Demonstration: “The Mystery of Lithography Revealed” Passow and Schmid demonstrate the art of their craft. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Studio 411 Saturday, January 17, 2004, 1 to 3 p.m. Free and open to the public.