I couldn't resist snapping shots of these collage pieces by Boston-area artist Jane Maxwell in the windows of the Lanoue Fine Art gallery on Newbury Street last Saturday. First of all, they're stunning images, large and iconic, and intriguing. The series (which unfortunately we missed because we didn't go in and it closed this week) is titled "Reflect" and is populated by images of women -- the Hollywood poster image of the "perfect woman," according to the artist's statement.
The work often features multiple women in conversation, comparison or repetition, a patterning that underscores the role female camaraderie and competition play in the quest for the ideal figure, and highlights our culture's insistence on uniformity.
In the current series, “Reflect,” the women are contemplative. They sit. They peer in mirrors. They pose and ponder. The women are looking out or peering back. They are, in a way, both viewed and the viewer...both judged and the judge. This interaction calls into question the complexity and tension between how a woman feels inside, what she projects to the world, and how she is perceived.'
The Lanoue gallery is located at the expensive end of Newbury Street near the Public Garden. This end features fine art galleries and high-end shops (the boho/funkier end being the other direction towards Mass. Ave). Jane Maxwell's work manages to be both high-fashion and a commentary on it. Passing below these windows on this fashion-conscious street, there's quite a bit of uniformity as the young women repeat this season's styles: skinny jeans, boots, long sweaters. They look lovely, though. Despite the repetition of fashion themes, their bodies are different shapes, their faces reflect different ethnicities, different personalities. What they feel about themselves inside is a mystery from the outside.
Of course I also liked the reflections of the sky and other side of the street from the "Reflect" works. My own reflection in a doorway on Newbury Street seems to say my inner concerns are primarily about plumbing.