There’s no doubt about it. Some visitors to Moore College of Art & Design’s “Emerging Philadelphia” exhibition will be taken aback by emerging artist Shona McAndrew’s life-size papier-mâché figures of naked and partially clothed plus-size young women in intimate domestic situations.
They’re on display in the spacious, windowed Wilson lobby gallery that shares the entrance to the college, and that candor right up front is refreshing. Provocative new art has always had the power to stop people in their tracks.
McAndrew is one of three artists with solo shows now on exhibit at Moore under the “Emerging Philadelphia” umbrella, celebrating up-and-comers. Also here are Stacey Lee Webber’s sculptures, loosely themed around money, and Matt A. Osborn’s inventive paintings and drawings.
Whatever anyone makes of McAndrew’s female figures — one is seated on a sculpture pedestal that’s likely meant to suggest a toilet, with a length of toilet paper in her hand — these women are individuals depicted in the privacy of their own homes, not stereotypes painted with a broad brush to stand in for one type of woman or another.
Like them or not, her figures represent real human beings and our banal personal behaviors. They push all the wrong buttons for me, but they also force me to confront my own, possibly rigid, expectations of how I think people should look.
Webber’s show impressed me with the artist’s handiness and incredible attention to detail. Here is someone who doesn’t let those irksome pennies weigh down her wallet — she solders them into three-dimensional facsimiles of tools, such as a shovel, a pair of calipers, or a mallet.
She also works with dollar bills, meticulously embroidering them with colored thread to create portraits of famous historical figures in costumes from her own imagination. In contrast to McAndrew’s show, which has no real physical boundaries, Webber’s exhibition in the dimly-lit Goldie Paley Gallery has the gravitas of a museum display.
Osborn doesn’t quite fit the “emerging” theme — I remember seeing his clever, cartoony drawings in a show at Pageant Gallery back in 2009 — but his paintings and drawings in Moore’s Levy Gallery make a nice counterpoint to McAndrew and Webber’s works.
Osborn is still musing on his everyday observations and inventing characters to enact narratives that suggest roots in legends and folklore. The images in his large, recently made paintings, such as Blue Dog Head and Pale Rider, struck me as blown-up elements from his drawings. I applaud that artistic impulse — to borrow from oneself!
Through March 14 at the Galleries at Moore, 1916 Race St., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 215-965-4027 or moore.edu/the-galleries-at-moore.
The Great Lakes, in 30 photos
The 30 large-format color photographs in Theo Anderson’s exhibition, “The Great Lakes Landscape 2010 to 2016,” now at Haverford College, come from a larger series of his “American Episodes.” This show’s particular geographical focus draws attention to the Allentown-based photographer’s expressive use of color and scale.
His images of Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior capture their vastness, often by including images of visitors, as in his 5 People, Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Munising, Michigan. Squint and you might see those five tiny figures on the right.
Often, his views of lakes and sandy beaches suggest views of the Caribbean Sea. Nineteenth-century American landscape painting seems to be as much a touchstone for Anderson as American color photography in the vein of Stephen Shore.
As is typically the case with shows organized by William Earle Williams, Haverford’s curator of photography and a photographer himself, Anderson’s show is accompanied by all kinds of fascinating related ephemera. Included here are a first-edition copy of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha and a 45 RPM record of Gordon Lightfoot’s 1975 hit The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Through April 26 at the Atrium Gallery, Haverford College, 370 Lancaster Ave., Haverford, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon-5 p.m. Sat. and Sun. 610-896-1000 or haverford.edu/fine-arts/exhibitions.
Ancient finds, in Kensington
Tiger Strikes Asteroid’s group show, “Preserving a Find,” curated by TSA members Megan Biddle and Adam Lovitz, gathers works that suggest relics in one way or another. The impressive lineup of artists here includes Patrick Maguire, SaraNoa Mark, Monica Palma, Liza Samuel, Dominic Terlizzi, and Thaddeus Wolfe.
To me, Samuel’s four paintings are the most ancient-seeming works, with materials like clays, foraged animal bones, chlorophyll, and various minerals. Mark’s carved ceramic sculptures also speak to a distant past. They could pass for fragments of architecture.
Through March 28 at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, 1400 N. American St., noon-6 p.m. Sat. 484-469-0319 or tigerstrikesasteroid.com.