WHEN SUSIE GHAHREMANI reached out to artists for Land Gallery’s latest show, Flora, she made two choices: She focused solely on work by women artists, and requested analog pieces. The show’s nexus of these two often-underappreciated art world groups—women and makers who don’t work strictly with digital techniques—is hugely compelling in practice, with 85 pieces from 16 artists set to fill the small space above buyolympia.com’s brick-and-mortar shop on North Mississippi when the show opens Friday.
I got a sneak peek earlier this week, when Land staff let me into the space as the show was being installed, paintings unwrapped, and small sculptures pulled from boxes where they’d been packed like Christmas ornaments between lumps of wadded paper. Though not everything was up yet (or even unboxed), it was an insanely enjoyable collection of work to move through, hugely varied in style, and unified thematically by a botanical focus.
There are Coral Silverman’s almost embroidery-delicate flowers, given a modern context on black canvas, like the negative image of an heirloom handkerchief. Dinging Hu’s commercial illustration-influenced pieces feature a Day-Glo palette and smiling, cartoonish women and foodstuffs on labels for fictitious products (“Hot Lanta pork sausage,” “Bigsweeties tomatoes”). They’re colorful, accessible pieces, which can also be said of Caitlin Keegan’s pencil line drawings of cerebral-looking animals (the monkey is my favorite), their forms punctuated by splashes of bright color, like a hyper-sophisticated paint-by-numbers kit only partially filled in. Hiné Mizushima’s menagerie of felt insects and animals mounted on wooden plaques is equal parts adorable and uncanny—they’re intricate specimens, way more interesting than a mounted deer head.
The show’s focus on singular, physical work is a pleasant deviation from Land’s multiple-heavy, print-focused shows. There’s also a huge range of pricing on the pieces; a few are actually affordable at the low end of $30. And if all of this sounds too twee for you, you’d do well to consider that analog techniques that lean closer to craft than so-called fine art are often dismissed for their association with the feminine. This show’s unapologetic celebration of them—and of artists who aren’t white dudes—makes it as subversive as it is delightful. We can be both.