‘Model Kitchen,’ Mixed Media Installation By Marybeth Ward

If you go to La MaMa’s La Galleria, 6 East First Street, between October 9 and 31, you can walk into a giant kitchen with an unusual message. “Model Kitchen,” a large environmental mixed media installation, pays homage to 21st century women of the world who fight violence and abuse in order to gain control over their lives. It’s the third solo exhibition there by NY-based artist Marybeth Ward.

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This photo is one of the backlit panels that, serving as walls, surround the model kitchen of the installation. A photo of a young woman in Calcuta (lower left) is juxtaposed with blueprints of American and European kitchens and texts of U.N. documents on good legislation practices in violence against women.

Ward creates a unique space to represent a woman’s domain throughout history – the kitchen. But this is not your ordinary kitchen. Its walls are large transparent panels, made from blueprints, images from international newspapers, UN documents and graffiti. The elements float as if frozen in time, taking on the flavors and tactile imprints of the woman they describe.

Huddled in the center are old appliances and a vintage television playing a continuous video containing orchestrated Cat Walks. These are intercut with scenes of women from different continents demonstrating for their rights as well as footage of violence being perpetrated against them. One sees women in various states of transformation, out of the kitchen in the world, struggling for autonomy.

“Model Kitchen” challenges the viewer to seriously reflect upon the current status of women internationally. The UN documents on the wall are actually advice to nations on good practices in legislation against violence to women. Ward states, “Violence against women, also known as interpersonal violence, is a crime of power and control, the UN has stated. It is a global pandemic. Many people are unaware the UN launched a multi-year campaign from 2008 to 2015 aimed at eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world”

The kitchen’s floor is a traditional checkerboard motif, which Ward explains as being an ancient symbol for the water of life. The seven gel panels complete the metaphor of the kitchen as the “body of women” or “house of women” in their own way.

Marybeth Ward is a New York based mixed media artist and videographer whose primary creative home is La MaMa’s La Galleria. In this avant-garde exhibition space on East First Street (now newly renovated and surrounded by the luxurious buildings of “Bowery Nouveau”), she has presented a succession of large environmental installations that are contemplations of the processes of transformation, impermanence and power.

Her “La Danz des Arbres” (2002) was a mandala of dried leaves on the floor, upon which images were projected of owls she had photographed, superimposed with ancient Buddhist and American Indian symbols. Her “Embryo” (2001) was a 1.4-ton monolith ice sculpture with a projection screen frozen in it, which displayed video images of a two-year-old boy on a “hero’s journey.” The impermanence of life was affectingly dramatized by the melting ice. “Revelation” (2003) was a double video projected on salt in a lead trowel, containing images of the Pacific Ocean and Majove Desert, with pictographs of Southern California Indians, interpreted by Ward, embedded in the images. The juxtaposition of oceans and salt made a direct enviornmental statement. Her “Tornado in a Box” (2004) was also a simple conceptual piece. An eight-foot cube was covered with black board so people could write on it after looking though a peephole at a tornado. Its message was, “Controlling nature is as absurd as my saying I could put a tornado in a box.”

Beside La Galleria, works by Marybeth Ward have been exhibited at The Ukrainian Center (NYC), La MaMa Umbria (Italy), Silver Lake Festival (California), various galleries in Holland and at The New School, NYC.

The exhibition will be presented October 9 to 25, 2009 by La MaMa La Galleria, 6 E. 1st Street, Manhattan (between Bowery and 2nd Ave., in the East Village). Gallery hours are 1:00 PM -6:00 PM Thursdays through Sundays. The Gallery Contact is Matt Nasser, 212-505-2476. For more info, see: www.lamama.org. There will be an opening reception Friday, October 9 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

Jonathan Slaff
Jonathan Slaff writes on cultural events from the brainy, the edgy and the good. He helps us keep ahead of the curve in the world of the arts and culture.