Zoë Buckman is a renowned mixed media artist whose work is deeply rooted in activism aiming to take down historical, systematic oppression of women. Her work toes the line between masculine and feminine, industrial and handmade, craft and “high” art, personal and collective, explosive and restrained. Buckman aims to make her work accessible to all in order to make space for a dialogue on the topic of gender equality and the violence against women. She has exhibited across the country and internationally, in both solo and group shows. On Guard features three of her pieces, which juxtapose traditionally effeminate mediums and imagery (i.e. pearls, lace and silk) with brutal boxing glove forms.
Cheryl Pope is a Chicago-raised artist who is locally and globally represented. She is an interdisciplinary visual artist whose work questions and responds to issues of identity as it relates to the individual and the community, specifically regarding race, gender, class, history, power and place. Her practice emerges from the act and politics of listening, with many of her works incorporating spoken word. The majority of her work relates to boxing, basketball and sports culture. Pope’s "Heavyweight" painting-installation is featured in On Guard.
Megan Euker explores the narratives and histories that objects hold. She questions how changing materials and fabrication methods alters meaning. With the final form becoming wood, cast metal sculptures and printed words, she is going after that which is considered golden, precious, impermanent and irreplaceable as in the athlete’s body, accessories and personal stories. Her works include sculptures and a nonfiction book of stories, relics and images linked through the sport of boxing. Some examples include 3D-scanned and CNC (computer-numerical-control) routed wood sculptures based on HAE's boxing shoes from the prestigious 1939 Golden Gloves competition. Several of her sculptures and paintings are exhibited in On Guard.
Amina Zoubir lives and works between Paris (France) and Algiers (Algeria). She is an artist, filmmaker and video art curator. Currently, Amina Zoubir is one of four artists representing Algeria at The Venice Biennale 2019. The Algeria Pavilion, "Time to Shine Bright," May 11- November 24, Fondamenta S. Giuseppe 925, Venice.
Videomaker and visual artist, Amina Zoubir works on the notions of body in specific spaces. Using female, male, animal and objects bodies, those interact with urban and rural spaces around the world. Her artworks question the social and historical thoughts from the poetics and myths in the Maghreb (North Africa).
The concepts developed through her artworks request the notions, the positionings and the tensions of language of the human being/animal/object body and its joint in urban/rural/fictional space. Her installations, drawings, videos, sculptures, photographs, land art are textual and contextual interventions on materials: wax, wood, metals and wall, reveal and deconstruct a behavioral allusion of the transfer of the unconscious and the imagination of individuals, evolving in a predetermined space according to the sociocultural, ethnopsychical and political contexts. The intention of the created images tries to embellish this moment of distance of the ordinary physical standards, to reveal an esthetics of the performative action operated by the artist whose intervention of the imbalance aims at thwarting the established order and at lifting the dissimulation of the imagination. A moved and poetic look on the body, articulated by spaces favoring the positioning of who look is looked.
Tara Lewis is a multidisciplinary artist, primarily producing paintings and photographs that dive into youth culture anthropology with a pop twist. Lewis creates large scale oil portraits of models wearing t-shirts, pageant sashes and other wearables designed and printed by the artist that center on evolving perceptions of youth, irreverence, girl culture, beauty, identity, teen trends, girl empowerment, social issues and pop culture, often referring to past decades and pre-internet sources in re-freshed and boldly mundane and relevant ways. The Preppy Handbook, Seventeen and movies such as The Royal Tenenbaums, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and her MTV childhood stand as huge inspirations and prompts for oil portraits. Lewis is a direct descendant of Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha, one of her primary influences, who also infused typefaces and cultural portraiture into his celebrated and pivotal compositions.
Currently, Lewis designs and prints her own text idioms onto wearable objects such as sashes, t-shirts, trophies and ping pong paddles, which she considers unique limited edition print objects. These objects convey messages, re-examine stereotypes & explore timeless youth culture and serve as a trampoline for artworks. The interaction of word & image is central to her work. The models in her works bring their own character and prop handling to the shoot, which is a collaborative process. Lewis has spent over a decade as a Professor and Chair of the Department of Art at Phillips Exeter Academy, a New England prep boarding school and pursued her undergraduate art degree at the University of New Hampshire and graduate degree at Tufts University and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Katya Bankowsky is a New York-based director, whose work includes the award-winning movie, “Shadow Boxers,” and many art and music videos. Two of her short films are featured in On Guard. “Battle Royale” is an on-going short film collaboration between Bankowsky and French fashion icon Michele Lamy about their mutual obsession with boxing and its poetic contradictions. Katya writes, directs and co-stars with Lamy.
“Amazement Awaits” is a poem written and performed by Maya Angelou at the request of the US Olympic Committee. Bankowsky filmed Angelou reciting the poem in her Harlem brownstone, then intercut it with archival Olympic footage. The film was projected in the Olympic Pavilion during the Beijing Olympics as an inspiration for the young athletes.
Marcela Torres is a social strategist, bringing into action performance, objects, workshops and sound installation. Torres pairs alternative learning methods with martial arts, creating a platform for the audience to witness a true representation of conflict. Torres has performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Three Walls Gallery, Performances is Alive: Miami Art Week, Detroit’s Fringe Festival, New York City’s Itinerant Festival and Virtual International Exchange in Boston. Torres has exhibited work at the Flatlands Gallery in Houston Texas, Fosdick Nelson Gallery at Alfred University, Acre Gallery in Chicago and Green Gallery at Yale School of Art. In On Guard, Torres exhibits photography and performs “Agentic Mode,” deconstructing martial art techniques while experimenting with sound. Torres’s motions build an audial symphony as a means to represent the complicated mindspace of violence, the fine line of victim, aggressor, and retaliation.
Mimi Plange is a founder of her own eponymous luxury ready-to-wear fashion brand. Africa remains a limitless front of inspiration for the Ghanaian-born designer, who seeks out the unusual in African traditions, and reinterprets various themes in a refreshingly modern way.
For On Guard NY, Plange showcases Unfashion Boxing Club, a repurposed leather motorcycle jacket that that reflects the pain and the scars left behind on the flesh as a result of boxing. Boxing is a bloody sport. "Flesh" and texture are recreated on the surface of the leather with Acrylic Paint. This 3-D painting style is reminiscent of both West African and East African Scarifications which were a defining practice for adulthood, healing and beauty. Somehow there is beauty in the scaring of the skin and resilience in the ability to take the pain and move on. Plange is inspired by Scarification because of her Ghanaian heritage and the fact that she has several family members with scarification.
A graduate of the San Francisco Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Mimi Plange holds a degree in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley. She has received many acclaims and awards for her work in the fashion industry, including International Emerging Designer of the Year in 2011 at the Mercedes-Benz Africa Fashion Week held in South Africa. The year after, she was named Designer of the Year. In 2017 Plange took part in the Celebration of Design Event hosted by Michelle Obama at the White House. Her work has been featured in many prestigious international magazines, including The NYT, Vogue.com, Ebony Magazine, and many more.
Kat (Kasia) Kay works in bronze, as well as ceramics and paper. Within each medium, her stylistic approaches are very different, though there are common themes across all of them. She is influenced by daily life, literature, history, culture and introspection. She challenges conventional methods in the art world both as an artist and an art curator, through interdisciplinary methods and exhibitions in public spaces. In On Guard, she exhibits a sculpture of a bronze boxing glove titled #LDFM that is paired with a history-filled vintage glove --- the original for the cast. The work reflects on Kay’s life journey, as well as on the “Life Doesn't Frighten Me” book, a direct inspiration for her curation of On Guard.
In her painting, “Fight Like a Girl”, Annabelle Schlesinger responds to dialogues present in the height of the 2018 “Me Too” movement. Her work explores gender inequality, stereotypes and empowerment.
Betsy Odom’s (b. Amory, Mississippi) received her MFA from Yale University School of Art and her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including a DCASE Grant, Illinois Arts Council Artist Grant, and West collection Acquisition Prize. Recent solo and group exhibitions include Everlast at Corbett vs. Dempsey, Let’sBe Honestat 4th Ward Project Space in Chicago, Oh No at Terrain Projects in Oak Park, IL, and Freedom Cultureat The Journal Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.