Zeus, once a childhood nickname, is now the title of Zoe Schwartz’s first solo show and the culmination of her residency at Chinatown Soup. This exhibition features two of Zoe’s most recent bodies of work: body a(R)mor and 100 Fantasies. Together, they explore a subverted landscape of socialized love, romance, and femininity.
body a(R)mor was conceived while Zoe worked at the New York Art Foundry in 2017. Casting bronze is long and labor intensive - burning skin on scolding wax, carrying heavy ceramic shells, and sweating over molten bronze. By creating sculptures from bronze, Zoe began thinking about the gendering of art media and the prevalent misogyny in art/art spaces as, historically, female artists have been pushed out of these traditionally male spaces.
Zoe focuses on the question, “What does it mean to be a woman-identifying artist performing ‘masculine’ bronze casting?” In response, she created body a(R)mor, a series of brassieres, underwear, and accessories cast in bronze. The historically masculine medium is paired with feminine objects to create a tense and humorous juxtaposition.
100 Fantasies is a series of 100 oil paintings featuring cropped romance novel covers. Zoe was first drawn to the covers for their over the top drama with twisted lovers in bold colors. She noticed a strong similarity between the romance novel images and classical paintings in composition and narrative: the women with bent backs, limp arms, demur hands and flowing hair and the men barrel chested with tree trunk arms and tight grips.
By cropping the cover, the painting is decontextualized from its source material and forces the viewer to appreciate the image. Cropping also highlights the problematic elements of romance novel covers including the violent aggression of male dominance over the female character, the strict cis straight coupling and the excessive amount of white skin. This series of work raises questions of who is allowed to love and how are they to love?
Zoe Schwartz earned a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Michigan where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2016. Currently a resident at Chinatown Soup, Zoe works in a variety of media to create a fanciful and accessible experience for her audience including sculpting, drawing, painting, and printmaking. Intrigued by the effects of gender in art, she analyzes and critiques the depictions and objectifications of femininity by the male gaze in current media and art history. As a result, her art embraces femininity and lies at the intersection of romance, intimacy, sex, gender, and race.