Behind the Mask: Women Welders at the Culture Lab LIC

Featured Exhibition
Installation view, photo courtesy of Janet Rutkowski

At Culture Lab LIC in Queens, NY, the exhibition Behind the Mask: The Art of Women Welders, curated by Janet Rutkowski and Karen Kettering Dimit, is transforming perceptions of welding as a male-dominated field. Running until April 28, 2024, the show highlights the contributions and creativity of women in welding, with over 50 artworks by 30 artists.

Janet Rutkowski, photo courtesy of Janet Rutkowski

The exhibition draws from Rutkowski and Dimit’s prior successful collaboration with The Sculptors Guild, emphasizing the historical and current roles of women in welding, especially during Women’s History Month. Rutkowski, a self-taught artist with a long-standing career in steel, creates works that merge her interests in sci-fi, fantasy, and metaphysical themes. Pieces like Touching Upon the Alternative use structural elements to explore themes of transformation and the unknown.

Karen Kettering Dimit, photo courtesy of Karen Kettering Dimit

Karen Kettering Dimit focuses on societal narratives and gender biases through her sculptures. Drawing on ancient myths, her work reinterprets traditional tales to highlight the powerful expressions and misunderstood qualities of women.

Other artists’ works in the exhibition follow this theme of transformation. Fara’h Salehi’s bio-metal form Studies reflect her mastery in metal fabrication, turning industrial materials into expressive, organic forms that speak to metal’s durability and malleability. Sheila Berger enlarges natural forms to monumental sizes, such as her bird sculptures, encouraging viewers to engage more deeply with the natural world around them.

Marguerite Elliot, photo courtesy of Karen Kettering Dimit

Marguerite Elliot and Rebecca Welz both use their artwork to comment on environmental and societal themes. Elliot’s Sacred Scars employs metal screens to delve into issues of visibility and confinement, inspired by her travels and how screens have been used to both protect and restrict women. Welz draws parallels between the resilience of barnacles and human survival, using ecological processes as metaphors for endurance and the impact of human activities on biodiversity.

Rebecca Walz, photo courtesy of the artist

Natsuki Takauji, originally from Tokyo and now based in New York, showcases her unique approach to sculpture at the Behind the Mask: The Art of Women Welders exhibition at Culture Lab LIC. Her work, influenced by her experiences in Japan and as an immigrant, explores themes of belief and identity. Takauji’s pieces in the exhibition engage viewers directly, inviting them to interact with her kinetic sculptures. Characterized by modernist lines and dynamic elements, her art prompts participants to reflect on their own beliefs and pathways, highlighting the complexity of identity and the delicate interplay between beauty and fragility.

Natsuki Takauji, photo courtesy of the artist

Together, these artists showcase the broad spectrum of approaches and themes that women bring to the field of metalwork and sculpture. Behind the Mask not only highlights their technical skills but also their unique perspectives on gender, nature, and transformation. This exhibition provides a compelling view into how women have reshaped a traditionally male craft into a diverse and rich art form.

Behind the Mask The Art of Women who Weld. Artist talk: Sunday, April 14th from 4-5 PM with moderator Cynthia Nadelman at Culture Labe LIC 5-25 46 Ave, LIC