“Penelope Caldwell knows the feminine. Her decades of midwifery experience and working with women endow her with unique perspective as she blends social commentary with visceral art. A popular piece of hers, “Mail Order Bride Comes With Baggage”, depicts a young woman, naked–prepubescent almost–simultaneously controlling and seeking refuge behind the beasts that accompany her. Most of her other work, however, irreverently focuses on the raw aspects of the human body in solitude: aging faces, tanlines, breasts dripping. The artist does not shy away from oppressed subjects and she does not ask for your approval. She does, however, ask for your thought, for your skepticism. Caldwell’s woman is neither concealed, nor is it liberated; the feminine is represented by the medium itself–often obscured, sometimes messy, and never fully understood.”
–Nightingale Foundation Director, Mamie Stevenson
Q & A with Director Nat Lezra
A Dystopia both Topical and Firmly Rooted in History
Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower begins in a suburb of LA in the year 2024 with the United States on the brink of collapse. California’s economy has crumbled in the face of endless drought and soaring water prices. A new drug called pyromania is ripping through the US, its addicts setting everything from people to neighborhoods alight, creating wildfires that decimate cities. Public institutions such as police and firefighters have been privatized, and extortion and police brutality have eroded any trust the public once had in those institutions. Unemployment is the new norm regardless of education level and class divides are larger than ever. The wealthy live in gated and protected mansions, the upper-middle class either sequestered within heavily fortified suburbs or privatized communities: factory towns that turn denizens into indentured slaves. The majority of citizens live on the street—constantly under threat of assault, rape, and cannabalism.
There has never been a greater schism between what we watch on large screens in crowded multiplexes and what we watch in the privacy and comfort of our own homes than there is today. The highest grossing films of 2016, as they have been for the last decade, were sequels, big budget superhero tentpoles and animated family films. However, box office reports don’t show the full picture of what American film audiences are consuming today.