2019 Curatorial Prize: An Inward Gaze


Curated by Roula Seikaly and Jon Feinstein

Photographs by Brittney Cathey-Adams and Arielle Bobb-Willis

May 2–June 2, 2019

Exhibition walk-through: Saturday, May 4, 2019, 3:00 PM

Blue Sky is pleased to present its second annual curatorial prize exhibition, An Inward Gaze. Curators Jon Feinstein and Roula Seikaly have brought together the work of Arielle Bobb-Willis and Brittney Cathey-Adams, two women who make sculptural, performative images that counter the male gaze and its prevalence in art history. In doing so, they illustrate how this power dynamic bolsters pervasive gender, race, and body size stereotypes in contemporary art and pop culture. Bobb-Willis’ vivid staged photographs use the human form as source material and as stand-ins for self-portraits representing her own complex emotional struggles. Cathey-Adams creates black-and-white self-portraits in various natural settings that declare personal agency in representation, and defy historical stigmas attached to women who do not fit an idealized physical mold.

Feinstein and Seikaly describe the work in An Inward Gaze as “an abstraction of control and self representation. Rather than offering a salve for the many complex problems tied to the male gaze, we’ve paired the work of Arielle Bobb-Willis and Brittney Cathey-Adams in an attempt to reframe looking: how two artists use photography to process their own inner struggles, how they use images of the physical form as metaphors for these monologues, and ultimately, how their methods are a means of taking ownership over their bodies and inward spaces.”

About the Curators:

Jon Feinstein is a Seattle and New York City-based photographer, curator, writer, and co-founder of Humble Arts Foundation. Jon has curated numerous exhibitions over the last decade in venues including Glassbox Gallery in Seattle, The Filter Photo Festival in Chicago, Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle, Hasted Kraeutler in NYC, Affirmation Arts in NYC, Barclays Arena in Brooklyn, New York, and Milk Studios in NYC. His curatorial projects have been featured in Aperture, The New York Times, The New RepublicBBC, VICEThe New YorkerHyperallergicFeature Shoot, and American Photo, and his writing has appeared in VICE, TIME, Slate, GOOD, Daylight, Photograph, and PDN.

Roula Seikaly is a writer and independent curator based in Berkeley, and Humble Arts Foundation’s Senior Editor. Her writing is featured on platforms including Aperture, Photograph, Saint LucyStrange Fire CollectiveCamerawork, Hyperallergic, and KQED Arts. She has curated exhibitions at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, SOMArts, and SF Camerawork.

About the Artists:

Born and raised in New York City, with pit stops in South Carolina and New Orleans, photographer Arielle Bobb-Willis has been using the camera for nearly a decade as a tool of empowerment. Battling with depression from an early age, Bobb-Willis found solace behind the lens and has developed a visual language that speaks to the complexities of life: the beautiful, the strange, belonging, isolation, and connection. Her photographs are all captured in urban and rural cities, from the South to North, East to West. Bobb-Willis travels throughout the US as a way of finding "home" in any grassy knoll, or city sidewalk, reminding us to stay connected and grounded during life’s transitional moments. She is currently based in New York City.

Brittney Cathey-Adams is a photographic artist currently located in Portland, Oregon. Her work includes themes of body politics, fat positivity, and interrogating ideas of representation through self-portraiture. Her work has been exhibited at institutions such as the de Young Museum, The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco. Most recently, she was a 2017 Artist In Residence with Center for Photography at Woodstock, New York. Previously, she taught photography and created program curricula in the Bay Area for seven years. She is currently teaching photography with Portland Community College. With a strong passion for photography and art education, Cathey-Adams dedicates herself to image making as well as sharing visual language through teaching in and out of the classroom.