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February 15, 2010

Kari Becker Souders Exhibits "BodyQuilting" at GS

Strips of quilted fabric, oil paint, beeswax, lace, and fragments of text layered on canvas and wallpaper form the twenty-two mixed media paintings in BodyQuilting, an exhibit by artist Kari Becker Souders. Currently on display at George School’s Walton Center Gallery, the exhibit will run until March 4, 2010. An exhibit reception will take place on Saturday, February 20, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the gallery.

The works seek to draw an analogy between the process of quilting and the ways in which women may alter their own bodies. Most of the paintings contain multicolored strips of quilting, often arranged in vertical or horizontal patterns. Words such as “augmentations,” “plucking,” “lasers,” “peels,” “rhinoplasty,” “face lift,” and “filler” appear in many of the works, printed on sheets of transparent film. Kari explained, “We see our flesh as compartmentalized fragments that can be resurfaced, patched, and transformed into new canvases piece by piece. In essence, we are quilting our bodies with the evolving text of culture and the visual standards of desire.”

Through its focus on quilting, the exhibit also seeks to represent the creative traditions of women. “Quilting, a practical and meaningful aesthetic practice, has offered and still provides women with a chance to gather and communicate with each other,” Kari observed. Kari recycled antique quilts by using segments of them in her BodyQuilting compositions. She also hand-sewed original pieces of quilted fabric for the paintings.

George School gallery coordinator and photography teacher Danielle Picard-Sheehan, who organized the exhibit, said, “Kari’s work first interested me due to her creative use of materials, and references to the history of quiltmaking.” She added, “There are hidden messages that unfold in each painting when you spend the time to investigate each piece.”

Kari has created distinctive textures through her combination of materials. Thick, white curved shapes made with oil paint appear in areas of the paintings, while a coating of beeswax gives the quilted fabrics a rippled, shiny texture. “My paintings are intensely worked until the surface has crevices and areas that appear both destructive and regenerative,” noted Kari. “Beeswax symbolizes healing, and is applied in its natural, flesh-like color that gives the work layers of protective skin.”

Kari’s work has been exhibited in galleries and shows in Arnold, Maryland; Haverford, Pennsylvania; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Chicago, Illinios; Cleveland, Ohio; New Haven, Connecticut; Annapolis, Maryland; New York City; and elsewhere. The recipient of a Maryland Federation of Art Merit Award, an Artstravaganza Award from the Hunter Museum of American Art, and a residency fellowship from the Woodstock School of Art, Kari has a BFA from Syracuse University and an MFA from the University of Maryland.

BodyQuilting is one of seven exhibitions organized by the George School Arts Department during the 2009-10 year. The Arts Department offers classes in visual and performing arts, including photography, digital imaging, video production, woodworking and design, communication design, painting and drawing, ceramics, stagecraft, theater arts, theater performance, musical theater, dance, vocal and instrumental performance, and music theory, with Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate course options.

For more information about the arts at George School, and a complete schedule of exhibitions, visit http://www.georgeschool.org/arts.

About George School
Founded in 1893 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), George School, a rigorous coed boarding and day school for grades nine through twelve, educates students from twenty-one states, thirty-four foreign countries, and a variety of ethnic, racial, religious, and economic backgrounds. Through its commitment to diversity and the Quaker values of equality, integrity, and peacemaking, George School inspires students to be led by their own truths while respecting and appreciating opinions and beliefs different from their own. George School was one of the first schools in the United States to implement an International Baccalaureate diploma program. For information about admission, please call 215.579.6547 or visit http://www.georgeschool.org.

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