Archives for posts with tag: Ghada Amer

My art crush is showing in Bust: Artist Ghada Amer Makes a Feminist Statement with Ceramics and Embroidery.

For over 20 years, contemporary artist, Ghada Amer, has challenged the oppression of female agency through sexually explicit paintings. With a global perspective, whether resisting oppression in the East’s Muslim-majority countries, where she was born, or in the West’s Christian-majority countries, where she has since made her home, Amer’s oeuvre has continually expanded into bodies of work committed to the message of freeing women — an idea that often takes the form of parted legs, open lips, loose threads, and dripping strands of unveiled hair.

We met in the atrium of Cheim & Read Gallery to discuss her exhibition. Most of the artwork was created around the 2016 U.S. presidential election. I was curious to see how the political context might have influenced Amer.

Portrait of the Revolutionary Woman (2017) greeted me in the entryway by way of an answer and inspired our conversation to interweave the tertiary threads of art technique, cultural critique, and pleasure.

Ghada Amer, Red, Black, and Gold Sculpture (2017); Women in White (2016) at Cheim & Read Gallery

Amer’s embroidered paintings and ceramic plates covered the walls, while the floor held a handful of podiums showcasing ceramic sculptures, Amer called her boxes.   

“Paintings are flat,” Amer said, “but on ceramic boxes you can see them in space. This for me is the pleasure. Making the painting into a sculpture.”

In front of Women in White (2016), she said, “I am always very critical about painting and about the history of art,” and gestured toward the painting embroidered with figures of women in poses appropriated from pornography. “Who writes the history?” Amer remarked. “What do you show?”

“We are fed this history of art with no women painters,” Amer continued. “We are fed that if abstract art is in the Muslim world, it is decoration, but if it belongs to the Western world, it is Abstraction. This is very problematic.”


Ghada Amer, Glimpse into a New Painting, 2018

We concluded our conversation before Glimpse into a New Painting (2018). From afar the colors swirl into abstract blocks of purple, indigo, black, and red, conjuring Cy Twombly. Yet to compare her work to the canon master felt similar to drawing connections to pornography. Both ends of the visual high-low spectrum prioritized the predominantly male gaze of approval.

Upon closer inspection, the figure of a woman—just beginning to disrobe—came into shape. She appeared intent on something yet undone. 

“All the time I am thinking,” Amer said, “how can I make a painting with my technique?”


Ghada Amer’s exhibition of paintings and ceramic sculptures is now showing at Cheim & Read Gallery through May 12, 2018. The complete exhibition catalog is viewable online.



Ghada Amer’s Déessee Terre exhibition at Greenwich House Pottery has me swooning. Her painted females, with their bold gazes, dripping locks, and parted lips, are now enchanting us through clay.

Sculpture in Black, Red, and White, 2017 by Ghada Amer

I’m such a fan of her embroidery work. So, to see her explore the female form and voice through another medium traditionally associated with “women’s work” is, yet again, breathtaking and radical.

Déessee Terre, 2017 by Ghada Amer

Look at this goddess, the show’s namesake.

The exhibition follows a three-month artist-in-residence intensive at Greenwich House Pottery.

And as noted by the studio’s director, Adam Welch, “There is no precedent for Ghada’s ceramics beyond her own body of work.” In other words, what she is creating with clay, no one else has done–ever.

Ma Venus de Milo, 2017 by Ghada Amer (and shadow!)

Clay, as a canvas and sculptural medium, creates extraordinary organic forms–from the work itself to the shadows it casts.

I hope when the archeologists in the far, far future discover it, they note it as part of our current cultural shift toward the now being female.

Ghada Amer’s ceramic paintings are on view at The Jane Hartsook Gallery at Greenwich House Pottery through May 7, 2017.


The exhibition of Ghada Amer’s Rainbow Girls is currently showing at the Cheim & Read gallery through May 10, 2014.

As fan of her soft-core portraits and a writer, I was especially excited to see how Amer incorporated language into her canvases of women.

“In fact, it is the first time,” art historian, Anne Creissels, introduced in the show’s catalogue, “that body and text, images and words are literally woven together.”

The Rainbow Girl 2012

Ghada Amer “The Rainbow Girl 2012”

I was immediately drawn into the gallery by The Rainbow Girl 2012. The colored-pencil-like lines reminded me of playing with those Hasbro Fashion Face Plates as a child in the ’80s. Moving closer I was delighted to see that the embroidery–that so often, in Amer’s work, recalls the historically unique female pastime of needlework–was stitched into block-lettering reminiscent of learning our ABCs to spell out the famous feminist quote by Simone de Beauvoir: “ONE IS NOT BORN BUT RATHER BECOMES A WOMAN,” à laOn ne naît pas femme : on le devient.”

I loved the entirety of the show so much it made me want to learn Arabic. If only so I could know what was on Belle 2014‘s mind, or crawl inside of the globe-like sculpture of bronze with black patina and read The Words I Love the Most 2012–as it was intended, from the inside out.

However, it was Norah 2014 that spoke to me. Behind the stereotypical, wide-open, beckoning female face, with loose strands of thread hanging down like wisps of hair, the manifesto of Margaret Sanger declared: “NO WOMAN CAN CALL HERSELF FREE WHO DOES NOT CONTROL HER OWN BODY.” The artwork rallied me. All that Norah 2014 embodied incited me to continue writing my own story, as well as help give voice to others. For women around the world, there remained so much to say, do, and create at hand.

Ghada Amer Norah 2014

A close-up of Ghada Amer’s “Norah 2014”

The catalogue of Rainbow Girls is online. I adore Cheim & Read for making a $50 book freely available to all with an Internet connection.


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