Thursday, October 13 2011 17:34

Gender Flexing Art Studio

By  Kelly D. McClain

Walking off Federal Hill’s Light Street during a busy rush-hour afternoon and onto a quiet street where a clean brown building sits demure and nondescript, no one would suspect the top level would hold the creative goings-on of one person: Lania D’Agostino. The door opens to a stairwell that ascends to a throughway full of nude mannequins who seem to be stuck in traffic. Their feminine made-up faces all convey the same emotionless thought. On the contrary, D’Agostino’s work communicates energetic amounts of personality as will be seen in her studio on Saturday, October 22 as part of the two-day School 33 Art Center Open Studio Tour which is free to the public.

“Lania has a remarkable studio,” said Renè Treviño, exhibitions coordinator for School 33 Art Center, “so much to see and experience, so many big projects. Her work is very ambitious and far-reaching… highly detailed body casts from live models, thousands of mannequin parts in arranged chaos and a full painting studio.”

D’Agostino, who arrived in Baltimore from Michigan in 1982 to study at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), is excited about her transgender work. The tall canvases are life size and imbued with bright-colored acrylics. For example, the Pattern Maker, 2011 collection consists of four individual canvases of unidentified naked bodies from the neck down. All have similar statures, though the use of colors and angles of the body are different. None can be recognized as simply female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF).

D’Agostino uses glass fiber-reinforced resin to cast live models in various stages of their “gender flexing” as she called it. Transformation, 2009-11 reveals three full body casts of a woman who underwent breast-removal surgery to express her masculinity. “You see the rounding of the shoulders in the feminine body of the first cast,” she said, “a slight shift after beginning to take male hormones in the second, and the transformation to the masculine after the surgery.” “It is a visual feast for the eyes,” said Treviño about D’Agostino’s studio, “and when you combine that with her charming demeanor and her welcoming persona, it makes for an ideal Open Studio Tour experience.”  n

DETAILS: Lania D’Agostino’s Open Studio: Sat. Oct. 22, 1-6pm. 1440 Light St. 410.727.6874. DAgostinoStudios.com. School 33 Art Center’s Open Studio Tour: Oct. 22-23, 12-6pm. FREE. BaltimoreOpenStudioTour.com.

 

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