Works Gallery
Artist Information

Libby Black

Little Girl Blue

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 3rd, 2018, 6:00pm – 9:00pm Exhibition Dates: March 3rd – March 31st, 2018

Janis Joplin in her rendition of the popular show tune “Little Girl Blue” famously altered the lyrics doing away with the ending of the song in which a distraught girl can only be consoled by a man, insinuating an ambiguity in which the singer is in the position of both distraught woman and consoler, or a queering reinterpretation altogether. Removed from its musical context, the title assumes an even stranger resonance amidst the revolutionary fervor that’s fueled everything from the Women’s Marches to the #Metoo movement–seemingly belittling the struggles for equality by generations of women with a patronizing pat on the head. Little Girl Blue as an exhibition however, sees Black responding to this revolutionary moment and rapidly shifting cultural landscape through a mixture of intimate paintings, installation and the artist’s iconic painted paper sculptures of everyday objects–interrogating everything from domesticity, gender roles and lesbian culture, to addiction, activism and our material desires.

In the center of the gallery, a delicate music stand carries two pages of sheet music featuring the show’s namesake composition, facing a wall dotted with various hanging baseball caps. By approaching the music stand and reading the sheet music, the viewer engages as an unknowing performer for this odd assembly–slipping into the forlorn mood from which Joplin sang only to be questionably received by an audience of vacant ballcaps. A closer inspection reveals that all these objects from the stand to the sheet music to the hats are comprised of the same materials: paper, acrylic paint and graphite–a potent realization that thereby renders seemingly inane objects with heightened symbolic resonance. By remaking quotidian objects through fine art materials, a transformation in value and conceptual weight occurs to the effect that we’re now considering the socio-political and art-historical ramifications of a stars and stripes baseball cap covered in “Times Up” and various other timely protest pins.

The artist’s sculptures are paired in tandem with a series of intimate and masterful gouache paintings depicting subjects including everything from the artist’s family at last year’s Women’s March in New York to a classical marble bust adorned with a fine silk scarf. This play in subjects from the urgently political to the pop cultural and high fashion worlds, reflects not only our own multifaceted and often conflicting interests, but also the strangeness of existence as a desire-laden consumer amidst our increasingly impending political crises.

Libby Black’s museum exhibitions include New Image Sculpture, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX; Workout Room, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, and New Art for a New Century: Contemporary Acquisitions 2000-2010, Orange County Museum of Art, CA. Artists of Invention: A Century of CCA at the Oakland Museum of California; Bay Area Now 4, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; The 2004 California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art; The Superfly Effect, Jersey City Museum, NJ; Art on Paper 2008, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; and Smoke and Mirrors: Deception in Contemporary Art, Visual Arts Gallery, University of Alabama at Birmingham.