Teacups and Hankies

“The power of gender roles in our personal growth has increasingly become an area of focus in my work,” writes Tracy Otten in her artist statement.  “I associate the teacup with femininity – possessing both elegance and delicacy. The designation of the cup as feminine has both a personal and historical precedent. In addition to the obvious functional qualities, traditionally women have been symbolized as containers or vessels.  Such a seemingly arbitrary designation of gender to an inanimate object is as curious to me as the broader societal definitions of such used to measure individuals.  In this case, the cup is broken indicating a fracture in conventional gender roles. “

Ms. Otten, whose monoprint “From Good to Great” is pictured here, is in the members exhibit at the Printmaking Council of New Jersey in Branchburg through July 24. The art of more than 50 members is included, and an opening reception will be held May 15,  1 to 4 p.m. The reception will be attended by participating artists and the public.

Hours: Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., .Sat. noon-4 p.m. 908-725-2110; http://www.printnj.org.

“Recently I have begun to incorporate the genteel refinement of a woman’s handkerchief into this personal iconography to further explore these ideas of individuality, social mores and prosperity,” writes Ms. Otten, who is an associate professor of studio art at North Dakota State University.  “Using my collection of handkerchiefs from the 1940s and 50s as a guide, I have started referencing their patterns, edges and compositions in portions of my work.  The textured surfaces created by the build up of the printed information allude to a sense of history and provoke a tactile response reminiscent of fabric rather than paper.  These disparate elements converge conceptually to create a tension in striving to define limitations for oneself in contrast to the larger societal expectations.”

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