Ria Brodell disrupts traditional narratives and offers multifaceted ways in which to experience the concept of devotion. While Brodell’s art stems from personal experience, the works in this exhibition allow for a nuanced rumination on gender and sexuality from both historical and contemporary contexts. The exhibition includes works from the artist’s series, Butch Heroes and The Handsome & The Holy. Butch Heroes presents highly detailed paintings of historical subjects who challenged gender norms. The paintings incorporate the structure of Catholic prayer cards; the artist’s aesthetic approach is deeply informed by a Catholic upbringing. These meticulous paintings are accompanied by scholarly documentation of the subjects portrayed. In explaining the motivations of an earlier series, The Handsome & The Holy, the artist writes, “I am interested in the play between queer desire and the construction of gender identity as seen alongside my religious upbringing. This series of work attempts to catalog the influential, yet seemingly paradoxical, figures in my personal history.” Featuring new and recent work by Brodell, this exhibition recontextualizes devotional imagery in the permanent collection of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Most significantly, Ria Brodell: Devotion allows for complex readings of gender in historic terms and through a religious framework. This exhibition, the artist’s first solo presentation at a museum, will be accompanied by a brochure featuring an interview with the artist.
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