Pound of Flesh is Katharine Kuharic’s fifth solo exhibition at P·P·O·W and has taken her seven years to complete. Taking stock pictures (“unsolicited images” from junk mail, newspapers, magazines and other sources) Kuharic meticulously re-collages images to create reconfigured histories. Her paintings are multi-layered, hyper-real, and highly keyed to an almost hallucinogenic pallet making them overwrought, sensual, and alluring. Seventeen distinct works highlight investigations into American celebrity, pop and suburban culture as well as her personal angst.
In both Jack’s Original and Ladue News, Kuharic takes residents of St. Louis and Ladue respectively and has them reposed on absurdist constructions. In Jacks Original, the grouped figures are given extra girth and she gives them a gesture of shame by having each person cover their genitals and waistlines. The people represented in Ladue News are from a society magazine with the same name. The posed pleasantness amidst the collapsing structure creates a despotic tension.
Pound of Flesh is an ongoing series where Kuharic tracks her weight loss and gain through repeated symbols and motifs. The years accumulate in yellow eggs laid across the bottom of the painting and her corresponding weight is recorded in red balloons above. In the center of the painting is a tangle of holly hocks, the symbol of female ambition. In addition to the measure of weight, these paintings also show the lost possibility of fertility and represent all that is fecund. Flora and fauna are depicted throughout as well as graphics of the Weight Watchers frozen dinners. This contrast of nourishment and hollow, empty food is the key metaphor for the painting.
What Women Lost is Kuharic’s largest work in the show and will be exhibited unfinished. It is comprised of hundreds of figures including all the presidents of the United States as well as anonymous and public figures like Chuck Schumer, Matt Groening, John Ashcroft and Martha Stewart. The composition suggests an inverted vagina as well as a giant blue eye and functions as both a melted skating rink and an oval of exclusion. During this exhibition Kuharic will be on site every Saturday from 11am to 6pm painting the grass that overlays the words “Keep Out, Peek Out”. In addition she will be painting watercolors that say "Made in America." These will be sold for $28.40 per hour, the rate that used to be paid to auto workers in Detroit.
Katharine Kuharic was born in 1962 in South Bend, IN. She completed her BFA in Painting and Drawing at Carnegie Mellon University in 1984. She has been in numerous group shows in the U.S. and abroad including exhibits in Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Stockholm, London, and Amsterdam. Kuharic has had museum exhibitions at the St. Louis Art Museum, MO, The Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, the South Bend Regional Art Museum, IN, the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO and the Portsmouth Museum of Art, NH. Kuharic has recently been named the Kevin Kennedy Professor of Art at Hamilton College, Clinton, NY.