Art questions gender stereotypes of American western mythology

Felice House

Felice House

A series of large-scale paintings by Felice House, assistant professor of visualization at Texas A&M, invites viewers to question gender stereotypes in American western mythology in “Re•Western,” an exhibit showing at the Wright Gallery, Langford A, through Feb. 14.

An opening reception for the exhibit, which includes sculptures by Dana Younger, whose work juxtaposes the mythology of the West with the costs of westward expansion, is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. Jan. 23.

“For more than a century, the West has occupied a special place in the imagination of Americans, with perhaps only one foot in reality,” said House.

Her paintings call attention to women’s limited access to power in the popular mythology of the West by placing them into iconic scenes from Western movies.

“By subverting viewers’ expectations, I’m questioning the genre, not only in its historical context, but as a contemporary fantasy with roots so deep in American culture that they are quite possibly inexorable,” she said.

House, wrote Abby Koenig in the Houston Press, is an exceptional artist whose paintings capture the essence of iconic western scenes without being carbon copies. The difference, she wrote, is in the color palette she uses — dark colors with hints of attention-grabbing rouges.

In the paintings, “the solid masculinity of the typical cowboy is now a portraiture of femininity,” wrote Koenig.

Before joining the Texas A&M faculty in 2012, House earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Texas in 2011, a Master of Science in Visualization degree at Texas A&M in 2006 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2000.

Younger’s work, which includes images of bison, steam engines and horse-covered wagons of embossed and carved polyethylene and aluminum with the words “The End” written on them, illustrates how technology and modern marvels have brought this once romanticized era to an end, wrote Koenig.

“Re•Western” is presented by the College of Architecture’s Diversity Council and sponsored by the college, the Department of Visualization and the Department of Architecture.

posted November 19, 2013