Female gaze

University of Nevada, Reno BFA students

Clockwise from top left, Kathryn Carlson, Kaitlin Bryson, Ashlea Clark and Ana Leyva are exhibting artwork together at Gallery on West Dick.

Clockwise from top left, Kathryn Carlson, Kaitlin Bryson, Ashlea Clark and Ana Leyva are exhibting artwork together at Gallery on West Dick.


Amy Aramanda and Miwah Lee’s work is at the Holland Project, 140 Vesta St., through April 24. Kaitlin Bryson, Kathryn Carlson, Ashlea Clark and Ana Leyva’s work will be Gallery at West Dick, 2221 Dickerson Road, April 16 through 27, with an opening reception on Friday, April 20, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Six young artists, all women, are graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program this spring. Two of them, photographers Amy Aramanda and Miwah Lee, have thesis exhibitions currently on display at the Holland Project Gallery. The other four artists—Kaitlin Bryson, Kathryn Carlson, Ashlea Clark and Ana Leyva—will have a group exhibition on April 20 at warehouse space on Dickerson Road being rechristened for the occasion as Gallery at West Dick. It was a late-hour replacement location after two previously planned exhibition spaces fell through.

The works of Aramanda and Lee fit together naturally—both are large-scale photographers whose works explore changing conceptions of identity. In contrast, the quartet exhibition promises to be intriguing because of its diversity. Each artist has a unique approach and aesthetic.

Bryson’s work is truly multimedia. It consists of paintings, sculptures, a video and a performance. “Transformations and Convolutions,” one of the centerpieces, consists of 243 Dewey Decimal library cards that have been cut up, painted on, and otherwise modified, transformed into a mural of reorganization and declassification.

“The work in the show is all about transformation,” she says.

Another of her pieces is “Shelf Life,” an exploration of death and decay—integral factors in all processes of transformation—in fruits. The piece consists of various pieces of fruit—apples and grapefruits, among others—in various stages of decomposition or, inversely, preservation—encased in polyurethane, giving off a strange glow like some sort of sickly hard candy.

“Phantasies,” Clark’s portion of the exhibition, will be a surreal, dreamlike immersive environment, made of glass, clay and monotype prints. The installation will feature creatures like “The Hoarder,” a large, one-eyed bird with a nest filled with detached eyeballs.

Clark says she enjoys creating works based in fantasy rather than reality.

“I live in normal reality,” she says. “I’d rather not create it. I’d rather make something new.”

Carlson’s work draws from Renaissance era symbolism. “A Bittersweet Exchange” is a 7-foot-tall altarpiece, with paintings on either side. The painting on one side depicts a disembodied hand, with a red string wrapped around the wrist and a key dangling from the other end. The other painting depicts a vivid, hallucinatory butterfly. Carlson says the two paintings represent the two sides of being bipolar—depression and mania.

“You have to walk around the altar to see them both,” she says. “Just like you can’t witness two sides of a person at once. They’re two different things that are part of one whole.”

Finally, Leyva’s work features men depicted in lightly sexy poses. She considers herself a descendent of pinup artists like Alberto Vargas.

“His work was sexualized but wholesome,” she says.

She says there’s a critical element to her work. It’s a reversal of the traditional and ubiquitous male gaze that objectifies women wherever it finds them. However, she also says she wants to present her subjects in a way that’s funny, endearing and captures their individual personalities.

“My work’s about being a heterosexual female,” she says.