In her first solo museum exhibition, Los Angeles-based artist Ruby Osorio created an enchanting, magical environment based on her unique drawings and works on paper. A series of gouache paintings, which incorporated thread and ink and are often hand-cut, presented this young artist’s exploration into female identity and its construction through whimsy with a punch. Osorio made connections between the ephemeral nature of her medium and a distinctly feminine psyche. The exhibition featured work created three years prior and a new series of painterly drawings created specifically for the contemporary that push the range of her work in scale, medium, and content. Moving from tiny thumbnail sketches to large mural-size narratives, the gallery was transformed into a delicate visual reading room that presented a feminine aesthetic through the use of cartoon-like drawings of women, girls, animals, objects, and natural landscapes.
While considering the enduring hold fairy tales have on contemporary culture, this exhibition enabled viewers to respond to allegory, myth, and fantasy as presented in narrative form, the story of a girl. Osorio’s stories refered to the physical and psychological dimensions of feminine awakening and escapism as experienced by contemporary heroines and girl collectives. Each story occured in far, far away utopian spaces, where it is safe for girls to indulge fantasy, explore sexuality, and truly awake without shame or hesitation, but hopefully with a little joy.
In Osorio’s landscapes—as in any good Hans Christian Andersen or Brothers Grimm fairy tale—a journey takes place that requires substantial risks and discovery. Osorio explored various rites-of-passage in which power, in the form of female fantasy, sensuality, and sexuality, was celebrated. Osorio’s work addressed the anxiety, insecurity, and vulnerability that accompany many girlhood transformations and female adulthood. Osorio’s enigmatic renderings of escape and leisure enabled her girls to confront (or deny) their fears through demonstrations of sheer confidence, strength, and relaxation.
The viewer was invited to look beyond shiny blades of grass, to cast their voyeuristic eyes upon shy, delicate, ultra-feminine girls habiting flowers in an Eden-like atmosphere where they shared their natural environment with snail-like creatures and dragonflies, much like a childhood favorite, Thumbelina, would have. Elsewhere, girls sporting hipster fashions tumbled through space with a doll-like flexibility and dancer’s grace, although curiously yielding very long silver knives. Adding a domestic aesthetic and reference, Osorio embroidered directly into the paper. Her sewn additions acted as abstract, repetitive motifs (sunburst, fallen petal, or wave) that gave her delicate work weight and punctuation. Often using variegated yarns, Osorio created unique color fields that gave her work an additional texture and depth that is sensual and wanting.
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