For this edition of Fan Mail, Stephanie Liner has been selected from a group of worthy submissions. If you would like to be considered, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org a link to your website with ‘Fan Mail’ in the subject line. Two artists are featured each month – the next one could be you!
Looking at Stephanie Liner’s Orbs, I immediately think of the panoramic sugar egg that had a place in the Easter baskets of my childhood. Both are egg-shaped and feature a window opening into an interior vignette. In fact, the panoramic egg is a product of the Victorian age as is the Queen Anne style, which is a source of inspiration for the artist. Yet there the similarities end, for while decorative, Liner’s life-sized Orbs are created with a decidedly more subversive intention.
Liner is inspired by interiors of the historic southern United States and, in particular, the Queen Anne style – elements of which she believes contain latent meaning about the societies that created them. The aforementioned Orb, a part of her Momentos of a Doomed Construct series, is defined by decorative and corporeal elements much like Liner’s entire practice. Constructed of plywood and typically covered in a floral textile skin, Liner’s Orbs are occupied by a seated, self-contained female figure with billowing skirts. In another part of the series, the artist connects the female form to furniture in a more literal way. The figure stands with hands on hips to combine with a sculptural element set on cabriole legs in mimic of a Queen Anne wing-back chair. Through each piece, Liner seeks to create a crafts-based visual language to address historic gender roles that she believes are perpetuated today.
The physicality of Liner’s work and its real world subject matter lends itself easily to performance, which typically accompanies her installations. The 2009 performance for Memories of a Doomed Construct exhibit at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh gallery encouraged interaction between visitor and model. Peering into an Orb, the viewer was met with the stare of a live female model from within – creating an uncomfortable, voyeuristic experience. Carefully staged moments of gazing and objectification are intended to make us think critically about gender.
Liner holds a Master of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin at Madison as well as a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Design at North Carolina State University. Look for Liner’s Mementos of a Doomed Construct in Out of Fashion, a group show debuting this November at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art that will address ‘the histories of fashion as vessels of time, nature and memory’. In July 2012, Liner’s work will join 40 Under 40 at the Renwick Gallery for decorative arts and crafts in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.