Hilary Harkness, “Prisoners from the Front”
P.P.O.W, October 13–November 11
Artist Hilary Harkness is known for her use of Old Master painting techniques combined with decidedly contemporary themes. Her intricate and meticulously rendered paintings explore ideas around gender, race, class, and power dynamics from an intersectional standpoint. The artist was represented by Mary Boone Gallery until 2019, when she joined P.P.O.W. “Prisoners from the Front” is her first solo show with gallery.
For her P.P.O.W. debut, Harkness took Winslow Homer’s 1866 Civil War painting Prisoners from the Front as a starting point for a new group of works titled “The Arabella Freeman Series.” The resulting scenes entangle Civil War history and the ancestral history of her wife Ara’s family as a means of the interrogating omissions in the historical record about queer lives and the lives of free African Americans. This collection of paintings is juxtaposed within the show with a selection of works from the series “At Home, At War: Life with Alice and Gertrude” (2007–2016), highlighting the artist’s dynamic range as she depicts imagined scenes from the life of the historically influential lesbian couple Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein.