‘Lynette Stephenson: this Confederacy of Dunces’ exhibit at Warehouse Gallery
On Nov. 19, The Warehouse Gallery will open “Lynette Stephenson: this Confederacy of Dunces,” on view until Feb. 20, 2010. For the Window Projects at The Warehouse Gallery, Stephenson created an installation about New Orleans consisting of 60 hand-felted wool dunce caps. The dunce cap, once used in schools to ostracize and discipline its wearer through shame and humiliation, now appears archaic and even humorous in this window exhibition by Central New York artist Stephenson.
A public reception for the exhibition will be held from 5-8 p.m. on Nov. 19, followed by a reception in the main gallery. The exhibition is intended for audiences of all ages.
On Feb. 18, at 6 p.m., the artist will give a talk about her installation at The Warehouse Gallery. All events at The Warehouse Gallery are free and open to the public.
This exhibition is inspired by John Kennedy Toole’s novel “A Confederacy of Dunces” (1980), set in New Orleans, where Stephenson’s family home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and based on her previous body of paintings, The Red Cross Series, which led to the idea for this site-specific project. In this work, Stephenson engages in a dialogue about present-day social issues referring to New Orleans, the tragedy of the hurricane and the universal symbol of the Red Cross.
Historically seen as an iconic symbol of safety and comfort, the Red Cross emblem has morphed into ambiguous uncertainty after the corruption and inadequate care provided by the organization in regard to events following Hurricane Katrina. It now teeters between positive connotations of its distant past, and negative emotions entwined in the organization’s more recent actions. The placement of such a universal symbol on numerous dunce caps could be construed as an attempt to criticize the recent exploits of the Red Cross through this slightly satirical display.
Born in Seymour, Ind., painter and sculptor Stephenson lives and works in Hamilton, N.Y., where she is an associate professor of painting at Colgate University. Stephenson has exhibited numerous times in Central New York at institutions such as the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn and Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica. Stephenson’s work is included in such collections as the Smith Robertson Museum in Jackson, Miss., and the Southwestern Bell Corporate Collection in San Antonio, Texas. Stephenson holds a M.F.A. from Georgia State University.