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Opening Reception - Over Look - new works by Kaitlyn Tucek

  • Leon 1112 East 17th Avenue Denver, CO, 80218 United States (map)

Leon is proud to announce an important and timely exhibition of new work by local artist, Kaitlyn Tucek, which explores the overwhelming lack of advocacy for female artists throughout art history. Over Look will featuring paintings that employ a variety of opaque and translucent fabrics, stitched together to form canvases on which the female figure, peaches, and magpies construct a poetic mythology that alludes to the mysterious and often incomplete histories of renowned female artists.

Artist Statement:

On page 531 of the 2001 edition of Janson’s Western Art History textbook you can find the following quote: “So far, we have not discussed a named woman artist, although this does not mean that there were none.”

While doing research for an altarpiece I completed last summer, I rekindled my love and interest in Late Renaissance and Baroque art. This meant opening up my old college textbooks and personal library of art historical content. With over fifteen art history courses between my undergrad at Pratt Institute and graduate program at CUNY Queens College, I can’t recall a single professor mentioning Artemisia Gentileschi. Why? My senior thesis was a series of large illustrative portraits of heroic women in my community. Why did no one think to recommend a female perspective to compliment my own obviously female perspective?
In the last few years, I have started to revisit my own experience and the willful ignorance that both my professors and I had about female contributions throughout art history. The mainstream historical narrative had allowed only certain men to define what art was, and its undervaluation of the female experience still greatly permeates our art education and contemporary markets. I became particularly interested in Artemisia’s disappearance. Researching someone so forgotten by history creates a daunting challenge to put the pieces back together. The mystery leaves the door open for multiple and sometimes contradictory narratives and has enormous potential for troublesome exploitation. Groups lay claim, offering speculative truths. Fragments and perceptions lead to questions that may never be answered. Through more research I discovered countless other notable female artists who I had never heard of. I found myself following three distinct paths of artistic curiosity, one leading to my own perception of Gentileschi’s work and intention, one leading me to discover the many other women I had never been educated about, and one leading to the self as an artist.
In the end, I had unknowingly unveiled my own fears of being forgotten like so many other female artists before me. This show became a personal conflict, with an existential ebb and flow. There were many female artists that could have been, or rather should have been mentioned before page 531--it’s just that no one was advocating for them. I hope my exhibition provides another way to record their names, and document their contributions to art history, and maybe through this undertaking, mine own name as well.

Artist Bio:

Kaitlyn Tucek lives and works in Denver, CO. From Long Island, NY, Tucek graduated from Pratt Institute in 2006 and was awarded her Master’s from CUNY Queens College in 2013. Mother to two under 5, Tucek is a multi-disciplinary artist who is often labeled a feminist. Tucek has been featured in Hyperallergic, Westword, Modern in Denver, and was recently named one of Denver’s top 5 artists to watch and collect by 5280 Magazine. In addition to her formal art practice, Tucek works in art and museum education, illustration and curatorial work, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Clyfford Still Museum, and the Denver Art Museum.

In addition to the visual art, Tucek has collaborated with local composer, Nathan Hall, to present a new composition as a live performance at the opening reception, as well as a video installation accompanying the exhibition, which Hall describes as, Self Portrait with Theorbo, a video performance of a new music composition for large Renaissance-era lute. Infused into the piece are quotations from Barbara Strozzi, one of Artemesia Gentileschi's composer friends. Strozzi, like Artemesia and so many women, queer composers, and composers of color, has been largely left out of classical music history.