Kathy Black | River Arts | Shows | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Kathy Black

When: Jan. 20-April 9 2022

The subjects in “Women and Girls” are here for it. And in this case, “it” is power. The females who populate Kathy Black’s paintings, currently on view at River Arts in Morrisville, express action, appetite, self-determination. But, asks gallery text, “What does it mean for a woman or girl to have power? … Can we think about female power without clashing with expectations of motherhood and femininity?” Black’s response to the second question is clearly affirmative. She answers the former in a variety of ways. In “Hey!” a pigtailed girl appears to be hell on tricycle wheels. In another, a woman clad in scrubs pushes a med cart; the title explains she’s an “Essential Worker.” In “All of Eden,” a woman with multiple breasts seems to conflate creation stories while holding out the mythical apple tree like a waitress with a tray. A series of paintings collectively called “Consuming the Goddess” is both slightly disturbing and hilarious. Imagine women with very large, wide-open mouths about to consume a basil plant, a small pet, a baby or planet Earth. Black, currently program director at Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, tackles her canvases with brushy gestures and bold colors. She often hurries through details — replacing an eye with a dot, a nose with a squiggle — which gives the compositions a sense of urgency. Perhaps she consumes the goddess with the very act of painting: Here, Black is the boss lady. This exhibition of females engaged in performative roles is equal parts entertaining and provocative.