Cassie Gnehm

Cassie Gnehm_You Should Smile More .Third Coast National Biennial 2020. K Space Contemporary

Cassie Gnehm is an artist and educator based out of San Antonio, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Columbus College of Art and Design and her Master of Fine Arts from West Virginia University. She also earned a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver. Gnehm is a full-time high school drawing and painting teacher and has taught internationally as well as at the college level. Gnehm’s work examines the representation of the female body throughout art history and contemporary culture. By repainting and collaging over these historical figures Gnehm takes back control of the female form and draws comparisons between bodies past and present. Gnehm was awarded residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts as well as the Vermont Studio Center.

Tell us about the work you have in this exhibition.

Cassie Gnehm, Third Coast National, K space Contemporary

You Should Smile More
38″ x 50″
Oil and Acrylic on Canvas

In this exhibition, I am showing the piece ‘You Should Smile More’. This piece is part of a series of paintings I did for a solo show called ‘Beautifully Apart’. In this series, I create actual still lives of open books of paintings of women from art history. Over the top of these paintings, I have collaged various body parts of women from advertisements. Most of the time in advertising especially advertising to women they target one flaw or one part of the body she should change to make herself better. Essentially reducing her to her parts or she is only worth the sum of her parts. All the titles for this body of work come from the various catcalls or sexist comments I have received over the years.

What draws you to your chosen medium, what do you love about it?

I start by collaging over oil paintings from art history with images of women from fashion magazines creating a new image and then working from that for the painting. The paintings start as charcoal drawings on canvas and then I do a gestural underpainting in acrylic. I oil paint over top of the acrylic painting as the final layer. I am constantly surprised by the possibilities of paint. At certain points, I feel I have mastered it and have found its limits, but I keep coming back because I’m constantly surprising myself with something I didn’t know it or I could do.

What inspires you to make art?

I spend a lot of time researching and looking at art history and specifically painting. I have always had an interest in why something is painted and in particular the way women are portrayed in history. I think a lot about why the artist chose to paint her in that pose or who this was made for or what clothing she is wearing or not wearing in most cases. Most paintings are a reflection of the time they were created but also mainly of the artist and the artist as a filter of those particular times. Through this research, I have noticed a lot of parallels between the times we are in and the paintings that existed back then. I also get inspiration from the portrayal of the female body in fashion and contemporary culture. The isolation of specific parts of the female body in advertising exists in both new and old images. I dissect both the old paintings and the new images of women together constructing my own figure or portrait.

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