Allyson Mitchell: Ladies Sasquatch

Allyson Mitchell, © Allyson Mitchell, 2005. Photo: Cat O'Neil.

Neither a teddy bear's picnic, nor a pack of ferocious beasts, Allyson Mitchell's newest installation presents an epic gathering of figures, each one a monumental symbol of female brains, brawn and sexuality—a community of Lady Sasquatches. The freestanding, sculptural works by Toronto-based Mitchell marry feminist theory with the artist's favorite material, fun fur.

In a new twist on the legend of the Sasquatch, a wild hairy creature, consistently described as solitary and male, Mitchell has assembled a congregation of anatomically correct females. Standing upright at over 10 feet tall, they are beautifully crafted creations of fun fur, taxidermy glass eyes, and various fake bear parts.

"This curatorial project presents the artist's realignment of feminine representation in which she symbolizes the mythical feminine as something not easily captured or domesticated, or harnessed to sell, yet undeniably powerful and attractive," says curator Carla Garnet. "Exhibited as a group she gathers strength from her society, she shifts the hierarchy and in as much essentially attempts to create a utopian feminist community."

Allyson Mitchell describes herself as a maximalist artist working predominantly in sculpture, installation, and film. Since 1997 she has been melding feminism and pop culture to play with contemporary ideas about sexuality, autobiography, and the body, largely through the use of reclaimed textiles and abandoned craft.

Her work has been exhibited in galleries and festivals across Canada, the US, Europe, and East Asia. She has also performed extensively with Pretty Porky and Pissed Off, a fat performance troupe, as well as publishing both writing and music. She recently completed her PhD in Women's Studies at York University, where she also teaches cultural studies.

This exhibition, which has been curated by Carla Garnet, is circulated by the McMaster Museum of Art. An exhibition catalogue including essays by Anne Cvetkovich, Carla Garnet, and Josephine Mills is available in The Gallery Shop.

Allyson Mitchell, © Allyson Mitchell, 2005. Photo: Cat O'Neil.

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