Re/Dressing Cathleen: Contemporary Works from Irish Women Artists

October 5–December 7, 1997


Pauline Cummins and Louise Walsh
Sounding the Depths: Shell in Hand
Cibachrome print
Collection of the Artists, Dublin

Rita Duffy
Becoming, 1995
oil on paper
Collection of the Artist, Belfast

Mary FitzGerald
Deluge, 1996
oil, on steel with velvet, glass and steel bolts
Courtesy of Green on Red Gallery, Dublin

Re/Dressing Cathleen and its accompanying catalogue are the first to explore the contributions of Irish women artists to the recontextualization of Ireland's national identity. The artists included in Re/Dressing Cathleen are leaders in changing cultural and social attitudes about women's roles in contemporary Ireland, according to exhibition organizers. Responding in part to a feminized, traditional iconography, they seek to reclaim and reinterpret symbols for a modern nation. The installation comprises nearly 50 works in various media-including painting, sculpture, photography and video. The exhibition also commemorates "Black '47"—the pivotal year of the Great Famine (1845-50)—and the burden it placed on the women of Ireland.

This is the first exhibition to explore the work of contemporary Irish women artists in this country.This generation of young artists has become a prominent force toward reshaping the arts in Ireland in the last decade.

Eithne Jordan
Split Face I, 1988
oil on canvas
Courtesy of Rubicon Gallery, Dublin

Alice Maher
Berry Dress, 1994
cotton, rose hips and pins
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin

Gwen O'Dowd
Uaimh Series, 1996
mixed media on canvas/board
Private Collection, Ireland

The artists participating in Re/Dressing Cathleen are the first generation of Irish women artists to receive national and international recognition. They include:

Pauline Cummins / Rita Duffy / Mary FitzGerald / Finola Jones / Eithne Jordan / Mary Lohan /Alice Maher / Deirdre O'Connell / Eilis O'Connell / Gwen O'Dowd / Geraldine O'Reilly / Kathy Prendergast / Louise Walsh

Eilis O'Connell
Cathoid, 1996
cast lead crystal
Courtesy Green on Red Gallery, Dublin

Geraldine O'Reilly
Emigrants Letter and Envelope, 1988
watercolor, gouache and acrylic on paper
Collection of the artist, Dublin

Like the exhibition, the catalogue—which presents original scholarly research—is intended to advance the understanding of the contribution of Irish women to the late 20th century Western European and American visual arts. Interviews with the artists by catalogue co-editor Conley, McMullen Museum curator, and Boston College Fine Arts Department faculty member Mary Armstrong—artists and co-curators of the exhibition—discuss the artists concerns and individual works in the exhibition. Faculty members from Boston College's Irish Studies Program and the university's Fine Arts Department—as well as renowned art critics and scholars from Ireland—have contributed essays to the catalogue, which explore the art historical context, literary parallels and content of the works. The interdisciplinary catalogue (approximately 140 pages) reproduces all of the works in the exhibition.

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