Complicated Territory at Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs

Curator Bridget Donlon brings together three women artists who reflect on our society and its structures

For Complicated Territory, the art of three women (Alex McQuilkin, Erin M. Riley, and Martha Tuttle)—covering three distinct styles and forms of media—hangs in unity and opposition to address and explore the nuances of feminine identity. It’s the latest exhibition to be part of the Queens-based Dorsky Gallery’s  Curatorial Programs—a series that brings in independently curated exhibits. And it doesn’t shy away from encouraging consideration and conversation. Be it via drawing or embroidery, installation or painting, the artists charge forward—acknowledging the past, but also proposing the future.

“I was interested in presenting distinct bodies of work in order to focus on each artist,” curator Bridget Donlon explains to us. Structurally, she presents the three artists as if they were involved in a solo show, as opposed to a group exhibition. This allows the title and its implications to be addressed full-force. “The title Complicated Territory is from a phrase I had written in the catalog essay,” she continues, “So the artists and artwork were selected first, then I wrote the essay, and then the title came last. I enjoy coming to a deeper understanding of the works and their relationships to each other through the writing process; typically in other exhibitions I’ve curated, I’ve had to commit to a title at an earlier stage. It was nice to come to a conclusion rather than set a premise through the title.”

“I have been watching Alex McQuilkin develop the series of wallpaper works that will be seen in this show the past few years,” Donlon says. She’s long identified with the the artist’s “references, aesthetics, and concepts. She has distilled ideas—that have been consistent in her body of work—to this format, which I think is wholly unique and I’m excited to bring several of these pieces together.” Donlon developed relationships with Martha Tuttle and Erin M. Riley more recently but feels equally connected to “their ideas and process. They are both working with textiles in very distinct, divergent, and fascinating ways.”

Of course, there’s gravity to the show’s title, which directs energy toward politics. It’s more than this; it’s grappling with decision-making as a whole. “Right now feels like a period of intent reflection upon our society and its structures,” Donlon explains. “This is something each of the three artists address in their own work. I turn to art for perspective and context, and appreciate contemporary artists who can articulate visually ideas and questions that feel relevant and insightful.” Every work either addresses or contests the specifics of contemporary female psychology and, in this, growth and a certain beauty appears from the dialogue on the walls.

Complicated Territory is on now through 16 December at Dorsky Gallery (1103 45th Ave, LIC). During the run of the show, the Dorsky Gallery, in partnership with Queens-based Hour Children, will collect toiletries to benefit recently incarcerated women and their children.

Images courtesy of Dorsky Gallery