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Artist Nina Buxenbaum’s lush, beautifully rendered paintings exude echoes of Manet and Delacroix. Yet, they challenge viewers to question our desire for definition, particularly in connection to our society’s depiction of women of color. “Topsy -Turvy” opens on Thursday, January 4 and runs through Sunday, February 18, 2018. The opening reception will be held on Thursday, January 4 from 6 – 8 p.m. and includes a Q & A with Ms. Buxenbaum beginning at 6:30 p.m.. All are welcome to attend.
The inspiration behind this compelling series stems from actual “Topsy-Turvy” dolls, which emerged in the 19th century and were named after the character of Topsy in the famous Harriet Beecher Stowe novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Designed to look like a southern belle on one side, her dress conceals a black girl underneath. Buxenbaum’s arresting images reflect this intended confusion, asking us to question the multitude of ways in which we create and label our identities. Provocative, but always deeply engaging, these works ask us not to turn away but to look more intently at layered possibilities.
“As an African-American woman of mixed heritage, I approach my work as an opportunity to position women of color into the Western art canon where we have been conspicuously absent,” states Buxenbaum. “We judge a culture and a civilization by the images and art objects that
they create. I have always focused on creating honest and personal depictions of women, particularly women of color, to provide an alternative to the stereotypes prevalent in our culture. ”
Everything about these works feels topsy-turvy—a bit off kilter and prompting a second look—but all the better to delve deeper into questions the artist wishes to pose, not close.
“Topsy-Turvy ” is sponsored by the Art Committee of New Canaan Library, and is curated by Michelle Crookenden and Eva McCarrick. For additional information please contact Christle Chumney at 203.594.5075 or visit newcanaanlibrary.org.