Judy Giera and Nathaniel Garcia In Conversation
In her first solo exhibition at SPANTZO Gallery, Judy Giera, explores the nuances of girlhood and the expectations of the feminine through painting, video, and performance. Giera’s bright colors and synthetic materials reference Barbie and her Dream House as well as the patriarchal conceits of the action painters of the 1950s. Judy Giera and SPANTZO founder and director, Nathaniel Garcia, share their reflections on the exhibition.
Tell me about the genesis of this show.
JG: For me, this show starts and ends with the concept of play. Playfulness is key. There is such a rich potential there for deeper conversation and for manifesting our pure impulses. The ability to play within gender is another trope I find interesting. The exhibition calls out the malevolent play and violence that shapes current notions of girlhood and invites the viewer to rethink what pleasure and freedom can be found in remaking and reimagining the feminine.
NG: This show is the culmination of a series of conversations between Judy and I, the earliest of which predate SPANTZO itself. As I was considering artists in the formative stages of the gallery, Judy was an artist who stood out as having a vision that blended so seamlessly with the mission and focus of the gallery. Further, Judy’s extensive experience in installation design contributed greatly to her ambitious concept of transforming SPANTZO into a Barbie dreamhouse. This concept was very appealing to me, particularly as an otherworldly context that she could create for viewers to receive the artwork.
What would the visitor see?
NG: Upon encountering SPANTZO’s exterior the viewer is welcomed by an army of barbies, transformed with spray painted elephantine foam heads. Some dance in the air among garlands of flowers while others do splits on distorted portraits of even more barbies. As the viewer steps inside the gallery, they encounter an explosion of barbie dreamhouse pinks and blues. The video gurl world (or rather, don’t make me over), is displayed on 5 televisions of different sizes and eras, and juxtaposes live performances of Judy (as a life-size Barbie doll-esque character) with footage of the TERF rantings of feminist YouTubers and Barbie commercials of the 1960s to the present. This video informs her seven abstract paintings by situating them inside a broader dialogue of intolerance of trans people, as well as the commercialization of one’s femininity; experiences the artist encountered in her late twenties when she began her gender transition. Her paintings are a freeform collision of synthetic materiality that recall post minimalist artworks which included everyday objects, as well as the gestural performances of the action painters. Coated in paint and resin, synthetic spray foam has been oozed onto the canvas, giving it a preternaturally organic aura. Barbie doll parts, bubble wrap and neon lights weave chaotically in, and through, the canvas creating a psychedelic cesspool of consumer mania that invites the viewer to rethink the feminine.
Please pick one piece of work in the show – what is the idea, process and how does it relate to the other work in the show?
JG: I’d love to talk about ‘at that gurl’s dream pool (or rather, cocktails by the pool, or rather rather, look away, look away!)’. This painting is meant to utilize the Barbie Dream Pool as it’s source of inspiration. I remember my sister having one of these as a kid. I wanted to create a piece that expressed the free play that a space like a pool can elicit, while also tacitly understanding that to me, as a transgender woman, space such as pools are very fraught. The use of black and grey in juxtaposition with the teal, yellow, and pink express these contradictions. I utilize my mixed media style to build up layers and creating and overstimulating abstraction, much as a colorful toy does to a child’s senses. The Barbie Dream Pool is also alluded to in the video work, including part of the 90s commercial for the toy.
How do you see the relationship between the painting and the video/performance?
JG: For me, the two are parts of the same practice. I approach my work through an interdisciplinary lens, but often seen through the two sides of the coin as painting and video. The videos are often filmed in front of paintings and color pallets travel across the two media. The videos make slightly more narrative the deeper issues that the paintings reflect on, however both painting and video are based for me in collage and devised theatre techniques, a way of parsing together disparate pieces to make a nuanced whole.
What would you like to share about the venue?
NG:SPANTZO is a contemporary art gallery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. SPANTZO’s mission is to work closely with artists to facilitate bold exhibitions and champion the voices of artists who widen the boundaries of expressible thought. We have an exciting calendar of exhibitions in the coming months including Carol Salmanson, Alexander Hernandez and Emily Oliveira. Please also keep an eye out for SPANTZO at SPRING/BREAK, September 8-13, 2021.
Judy Giera, ‘Til the Moon Turns Pink at SPANTZO Through September 19, 2021 138 Eldridge St. NYC, NY 10002
Judy Giera’s work has been shown at the Hudson River Museum,Amos Eno Gallery, White Columns (On- line), Bronx Arts Space, EFA, Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition,Trestle Gallery, and more. Her evening length performance work, ‘Blanche On A Winter’s Eve’ premiered at the United Solo Theatre Festival in 2016 and was curated into the First International Human Rights Arts Festival in 2017. Her performance works have also been seen at Dixon Place, Under St. Marks,Theatre 80, and Ideal Glass Studios. She holds an MFA in Art (Painting) from Lehman College/CUNY and an MFA in Theatre from the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University. Judy maintains a studio at EFA (The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts) where she also serves as Program Manag- er for EFA Project Space, the foundation’s cross-disciplinary gallery program. Giera resides in Brooklyn with her two cats, lots of plants, and a well-worn Hitachi Magic Wand.