Furniture in the Raw
Naked bodies and furniture go together about as well as teen-agers and sex. Which is to say the juxtaposition of subjects in Hidden Secrets is perfectly natural and still a tad disturbing. Joy Christiansen, a Texas Woman's University grad student and photographer, presents work that is simple, direct and mysterious at the same time.
Inspired by personal experience, Christiansen offers an exhibit and a sort of installation that is vulnerable to the poking and prodding nature of human curiosity. Her work deals with body image and the need for validation of one's body in sexual relationships. "In my recent work I am sharing personal stories that both reveal and conceal memories...working from the stories from my past that creep into the present," Christiansen says.
Text and images, a combination that risks being trite and difficult to marry successfully, are for Christiansen ideal media. She masterfully shapes them like a single issue of Cosmo Girl can shape a malleable preteen. Secrets are hidden in the pieces of furniture on display, and examining the structures mimics the process of extracting someone's feelings. In "The Desk," drawers contain personal stories and thoughts about the artist's own experiences and opinions of herself and her physical image.
It is the simplicity of Christiansen's images that so effectively conveys her feelings or secrets. In her image "Hidden Secrets #2," she uses a large empty bookcase to counter the soft shape of a female nude confined within the second shelf. Hidden Secrets is a this-is-me, these-are-my-thoughts display that should be seen. Artists put themselves up for criticism as soon as they show one person their work, but it's Christiansen's confidence in exposing herself so starkly and strongly that is so memorable.
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