To describe Erin Currier’s style is no easy feat. Comprising layers upon layers of material, her mixed-media work is laced with a haunting cry for equality and forces spectators out of their comfort zones.
“I call this one ‘American Schoolgirls 3,’” Currier says, walking into her studio and pointing at a monumental piece that depicts a group of school-aged girls dressed in Muslim garb.
“I see a lot of prejudice and discrimination right now against Muslims in the United States,” she explains. “My hope is that the viewer comes to this piece and thinks, ‘What country are these girls from? Where does this take place?’—and [then] they see the title and realize it.”
Schoolgirls, like all other pieces in her latest endeavor, Students & Soldiers/Estudiantes y Soldados, also begs observers to analyze it in an almost Where’s Waldo? fashion by seeking out the scraps of repurposed elements that compose it. In this case: propagandist posters, movie theater candy and boxes of bootleg Madonna-brand incense that feature the pop singer circa her True Blue phase that Currier picked up during a trip to India.
“It’s all trash and packaging,” Currier explains, continuing the tour and speaking about an intricately detailed portrait of Baltasar Garzón—the head of Julian Assange’s legal team and the man responsible for issuing the international warrant for the arrest of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
“This is a Trader Joe’s cake mix box and a placemat from Lebanon,” she says, caressing Garzón’s quasi-stained glass face.
Currier’s love for discarded components began when she worked at a coffee shop and realized how much waste a single cup o’ joe produces, along with how detailed some sugar packets and tea wrappers are.
“So much of [them] were little works of art in themselves,” she says.
A woman of contrasts, she’s dressed in a delicate black slip paired with army boots; possesses both supermodel looks and Diego Rivera technique; and, though soft-spoken, creates artwork that speaks volumes.
The strong nature of her work is not the only hurdle Currier faces. She’s quick to point out that the museum and gallery realms are, for the most part, a boy’s club and goes on to say that for every thousand male artists on the cover of Artforum, there’s one female.
Asked if it’s more difficult for a female transgression artist to develop an audience than it is for a male, her answer is playful and direct: “I can’t say, because I’ve never been a male artist.”
Students & Soldiers/Estudiantes y Soldados: Artist reception: 5-7 pm, Friday, Aug. 31. Free. Blue Rain Gallery, 130 Lincoln Ave., Ste. C, 954-9902