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New Morningside University art show takes offbeat look at feminism
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New Morningside University art show takes offbeat look at feminism

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SIOUX CITY -- The women in Klaire Lockheart's paintings frequently perform household tasks while wearing frilly aprons, conservative dresses and over-the-top stiletto heels.

Another attribute in the Vermillion, S.D.-based artist's oversized pieces? Her models glower back at their audience with optimum attitude.

"The mom's grumpiness in 'Savannah is Lady Like' is all an act and so is the grumpiness of the older of her two daughters," Lockheart said, explaining one of her paintings. "The grumpy young daughter in her mom's arms wasn't acting. She missed her naptime and she really was grumpy about it."   

Currently the artist-in-residence at the Vermillion, S.D. Area Arts Council and a Morningside University adjunct professor, Lockheart is part of a collaborative exhibit titled "No Rest for Women," along with the Monticello, Minn.-based artist D. Helene Woods.

The paintings of both women are now on display at Morningside's Eppley Art Gallery, 3625 Garretson Ave. The show will conclude with a reception, attended by Lockheart and Woods, at 3 p.m. Sept. 17.

Describing her models as the reverse image of June Cleaver, the pearl-necklace-wearing mom from the 1950s TV sitcom "Leave it to Beaver," Lockheart said she likes to play off of the disconnect between the media's interpretation of femininity and how women dress at home.

"Despite what you see in TV commercials, women aren't in full makeup when they're scrubbing the bathtub," she said with a laugh.

If Lockheart's satirical approach towards art emphasizes outward appearances, Woods' pieces are, literally, much more inward-looking.

"I call my art an imagined biology because I study MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) images," Woods explained. "I'm interested in how our physical health is connected to our environment, gender roles and the society at large."

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Another unique aspect to her art is the fact that her models are nude, faceless and, seemingly, transparent.

"I want audiences to see themselves in my paintings," Woods said of her colorful and graphic work.

Even though she had been painting her entire life, Woods has only been seriously exhibiting her work for the past few years.

"It is harder for women to pursue art careers than men," she acknowledged. "Women are supposed to be raising families, not making art."

Lockheart agreed that there is a gender gap in the arts.

"According to a 2019 study, only 12.5 percent of artists shown in major museums are women," she said. "We have to find a way to fix that statistic."

Indeed, leveling the playing field is a big part of Lockheart's art.

"We still have this outdated model of what feminism should look like," she explained. "Women are expected to work during the day, coming home at night to care for the family, do housework and fix dinner."

"If we don't look immaculate while doing it, we must be doing something wrong," Lockheart said, shaking her head. "My art said it's OK to not fit into a stereotypical mode."

Plus she does it in a decidedly tongue-in-cheek fashion.

"It helps to incorporate humor," Lockheart said. "It makes even serious subject more approachable."

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