Figuratively Speaking Reviewed by Joe Nolan

Nashville art critic, Joe Nolan, reviewed the Figuratively Speaking show at the Rymer Gallery for the Nashville Scene. Here’s what he had to say:


Figuratively Speaking is a new exhibit at Rymer that finds gallery director Natalie Dunham presiding over a show that she juried, choosing a handful of work from a flood of submissions that came in from all over the globe. While Dunham chose all the work without knowing any information about the artists who made the individual pieces, she was pleased to find that her blind choices still yielded a majority of Southeastern U.S. artists for the final show.

Dunham was gracious enough to talk me through the show, as it’s a very diverse affair featuring work that ranges dramatically in tone, style, medium and message. But in the end, the two pieces that caught my eye when I walked in were still my favorites when I walked out.

Shana Kohnstamm’s “Homage to Tanning’s Cousins” invokes the life and work of Dorothea Tanning — an American painter, sculptor and writer, Tanning ran with the bests artists in the world in the middle of the 20th century and was the widow of Max Ernst. She died in 2012 at the age of 101.

Tanning’s “Cousins” is a sculpture of two abstract figures standing side-by-side, crafted out of synthetic fur, wool and steel. Kohnstamm’s version (pictured above) offers her own twist as any successful homage must. The artist presents two abstract figures as in the original, but Kohnstamm’s version is more articulated, sexual and gender bendy. It’s also a lot more humorous than Tanning’s piece. Kohnstamm’s construction is self-consciously cartoonish, finding a brown anthropomorphic figure with a muscular, masculine body but a large orifice for a head seeming to drag another figure by its “neck” — the pink figure has a feminine, curvy shape and a big floppy penis for a head. Even from the sidewalk this pair made me take a second look.

2 comments on “Figuratively Speaking Reviewed by Joe Nolan

    • Thanks Geri! I’m quite tickled with the review and happy the gallery is going to keep the piece on view for another month.

      I’m so happy you comments because I’ve been thinking about you, actually. I signed up for Lynne Bruning’s workshop at Arrowmont to expand on the lessons I learned at Shakerag. Perhaps we could get together and brainstorm sometime this summer? I’ll also be in Asheville this October around the SAFF.

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