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Bodies of work

Female artists tackle the human form with 'Body Language' exhibit

The human form is among the most common subjects in art history. From early cave paintings to modern abstract experimentation, the body is an essential subject for nearly every media.

The Walters Cultural Arts Center is celebrating the human form with its current exhibit, 'Body Language,' which features works that, rather than utilize traditional portraiture, reflect ideas of identity, relationships, memories and more. The exhibit, featuring works by women artists from the area as well as national and international submissions, is on display through March 31.

'I haven't done a show in a while, and the theme is 'Body Language,' which is the main thing I do with my art,' said Molly Keizur, a 17-year-old artist who has five drawings in the exhibit. 'It just kind of comes naturally.'

Keizur, a tenth-grade student who has been drawing since she was one year old, said she has always been inspired by the human form because of its ability to help convey complex emotions that others can interpret. Her works draw from everyday experiences - the stresses of finals week, feelings of isolation and entrapment - in ways she said can translate to the individual viewer.

'It's a way to express yourself without having to tell someone exactly what's going on and how you feel,' said Keizur. 'You can put it in a certain way that people can look at and try to understand on their own, but you don't have to say exactly what you feel. They can still see the point, and it's a good way to get feelings out.'

Jessica Orlowski, a 28-year-old ceramic sculptor who recently moved to Hillsboro after completing her master of fine arts degree at Georgia State University, said she is also drawn to figurative art because people identify with form.

Orlowski's sculptures, which utilize textile children's clothing hardened and posed as if containing a body, are intended to evoke memories, with the lack of bodies in the active-looking clothing allowing viewers to visualize their own childhood memories while being guided by the artist's original ideas.

'I predominantly use empty children's clothing to talk about individuals' experiences,' said Orlowski. 'Even though every viewer will take away a different experience, I really try to give them a foothold into my intention. It's OK if they walk away with something completely different than what I meant, but I try and give them some clues.'

Orlowski said figurative art serves the function of allowing the audience to place themselves in other people's shoes (or, in the case of her works, baby clothes) while reflecting on themselves. With 'Body Language,' the artists on display are able to convey those ideas in their very different media, and Orlowski said she is happy to offer exhibit with artists whose works go outside of tradition - a practice she sees as vital to her art.

'In traditional figure sculpture, you can empathize with the figure's situation but you can't actually pour yourself into the vignette,' said Orlowski. 'The object of my work is to create these vessels for memory. I hope viewers can relate to them in a more direct personal way than trying to relate to the 'other' you see with most figure sculpture.'

To learn more about the exhibit, visit www.ci.hillsboro.or.us/arts/wcac.