Here’s why the ‘Meredith College Hues Iris Alumnae Art Exhibition’ is one you have to see

"Surviving" is digital photography by Jade Wilson in "Meredith College Hues Iris Alumnae Art Exhibition."Contributed

If you love culture, this one is for you. Themed Meredith Hues Iris, a nod to the iconic college symbol, “Meredith College Hues Iris Alumnae Art Exhibition” is a must-see.

Back story: In 1968, Meredith College alumna Loleta Kenan Powell, class of 1941, developed and registered an iris hybrid she named Meredith Hues — the floral token a perennial signifying continual, lifelong abiding. “This exhibition goes beyond the surface of exploring Powell’s creation,” says Gallery Director and Associate Professor of Art Lisa F. Pearce. “Beyond the first glimpse of representational flower forms lies work throughout the gallery pushing political topics of gender identity, sexuality and women’s roles.”

Free, open to the public and on view until March 11, “alums spanning the past four decades are represented,” offers Pearce. And while the theme is the pretty perennial, “artists took creative liberties with the form, symbolism and conceptual narrative of the flower as a symbol of Meredith and women,” she adds.

A reception will take place Feb. 27 (free, open to public, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.) at the Gaddy-Hamrick Art Center Weems Gallery. As you add the gallery stop to your calendar, Pearce posits why “Meredith College Hues Iris Art Alumnae” is a must-go.

Challenge yo’ mind

“This ain’t your mamma’s flower show! ‘Ladylike’ by Emily Beck (2001) has us face to face staring into six mirrored signs depicting the traditional symbol for women with words such as neurotic, hormonal and other terms less ‘ladylike’ for me to state. Juxtapose this with Ashlynn Browning’s (2000) ‘Geoform Iris’ in her Browning stylistic approach, but representational/abstraction of this iris’ structure and form.”

“Color Can Raise The Dead!” (Iris Apfel)

“How many words can you make from the word iris? I only pulled out ‘sir’ or ‘Irish’ if I added the h, but neither will do for this exhibition. Consider the many meanings of the word iris — such as the mythological Goddess of the Rainbow, the colored portion of our eyes. Indeed, this exhibition has them all! Katelyn Richelle’s (2011) ‘Iris Warrior Princess’ is a depiction of transgender advocate Laverne Cox decked out as Iris the Rainbow Goddess herself, including being painted in rich jewel tones, and don’t forget the sequins while across from her is Kitty Miller’s (1999) ‘Jackelope’ series of embroidered hybrid bunnies with antlers, the latter paying homage to Loleta Kenan Powell’s hybridization of two irises to create the ‘Meredith Hues.'”

Intelligent Mischief

“This exhibit celebrates Loleta Kenan Powell’s ingenuity and creativity, which sparked the concept for this exhibition. It’s the artist’s cleverness either with a paintbrush in her talented hand or a tongue-in-cheek mischievous poke others took at the role of women and the stereotyping that can come from seeing a gender as frail and only superficially beautiful as a flower.”

“Meredith College Hues Iris Alumnae Art Exhibition”

When: On view until March 11
Where: Gaddy-Hamrick Art Center Weems Gallery
Reception: Feb. 27, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

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