PINK!: An Exhibition Statement From Curator Morgan Laurens
Love it or loathe it, pink is everywhere right now. From Barbiecore and Bimbocore to runway trends and the latest sex toys, pink is the American shorthand for all things femme and feminine. But the color has ~shades~ of meaning. While some pinks feel docile, domestic, and soothing, shocking pink is anything but. It’s telling that Pantone’s newly crowned color of 2024, Peach Fuzz, sits comfortably between pink and orange, a diminutive half-step between nursery pink and safety orange, a color that routinely crops up in masculine-coded activities like hunting and construction. Personally, I’m still fawning over Margot Robbie’s Mattel-inspired red-carpet looks, Peach Fuzz be damned.
Pausing to reflect before the inevitable peach-hued plunge, our second exhibition of the year investigates the cultural phenomenon of pink and its evolving meaning in our lives. From Pantone’s Viva Magenta to Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Valentino’s 2022-2023 Pink PP Collection, 2023 was a year full of powerful, assertive pinks. I see the color’s ubiquity as a response to the tyranny of neutrals, beige, and the gray-ification of modern architecture; others may associate pink with plastic feminism and hyper-consumerism. The desire to feel hope again probably factors heavily into the mix—after all, how can we see the world through rose-colored lenses without pink?
Warm Spaces: Friendship, Lust, Love, and Self-Care
In 2022, interior designers declared pink the new neutral. While the ambient pink in your bathroom will give your reflection a healthy glow sans makeup, the color’s soothing vibes also invoke domesticity, intimacy, spirituality, love, lust, and self-care. To figure painter Betsy Podlach, flushed pink is the color of love. Peeking from under layers of unkempt hair or dashed along the background as fuzzy carpet or patterned wallpaper, the artist’s signature color acts as a unifying thread throughout her sensual domestic vignettes.
L.A.-based painter Kim Marra balances dark pink shades with soft purples, burnt siennas, and kelly greens to create the semi-abstract “Rolling Hills,” a topsy-turvy collage-style painting that wrestles with the chaos of the modern world. Thankfully, Caitlin Carcerano’s “At the End of the Day” promises the refuge of a warm bath in consolation.
Gender Play, Empowerment, and Identity
Before WWI, pink was considered a masculine color. As consumerism rose in the 20th century, manufacturers began color-coding children’s toys and clothes to increase sales, and the association was born. Today, pink is used as shorthand for all things girly, but in artwork, it’s often associated with identity, empowerment, and cheeky gender play. “[My] self-portraits focus on violent, revolutionary, and apocalyptic imagery to examine the portrayal of women in literature, mythology, Christianity, and ancient and modern socio-political discourse,” says Andy Galván, who uses a mysterious, Pepto Bismol-colored syrup in her photograph “Eat my flesh, drink my blood” (above).
Inspired by personal experiences, Phoenix-based artist Ashley DuRard explores the female body by focusing on the three primal matters we associate with womanhood: rich yellow for egg yolk, clotted crimson for menstrual blood, and cloudy white as a metaphor for milk. The soft pink limbs in Ashley’s “Untitled 2” offer a measure of softness within the chaotic mingling of matters. Bound in a black pleather catsuit and straddling a pink unicorn, Georgian painter Mako Lomadze defiantly returns the viewer’s gaze in her self-portrait “I Overcame Obstacles,” a powerful meditation on authenticity and fortitude.
Materialism and Hyper-Consumerism
Considering that pink became associated with girls due to rising consumerism in the 20th century, it’s hardly surprising that the color is linked with material consumption and hyperconsumerism. Esther Hernandez makes this artificial connection painfully clear in her sculpture “Roomboob” (above), a brilliant metaphor for modern motherhood.
Robert Moy’s tribute to Hello Kitty, a pink balloon sculpture appropriately titled “Kitty,” captures the bewildering commercial obsession surrounding the cultural icon.