“Can you name 5 women artists?”
This simple question posed by the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) has grown into an international campaign that Alfa Art Gallery is proud to be a part of. The campaign highlights the imbalance in gender representation in the arts. Follow us this (women’s history) month as we showcase women artists in our collection. To kick off NMWA’s #5WomenArtists campaign, we are starting with Hannah Schrenzel.
A young woman sits on a toilet seat in a pink lit bathroom reading a newspaper. We can figure out what is going on in the photo without the aid of a caption – she is sporting a black top and a lacy black thong, which has been pulled down below her knees, indicating that she is using the toilet. She holds the newspaper softly, as she gazes upon it with interest – that’s what our eyes return to. The closer you look, the more there is to see – the young woman’s black stilettos, the bicolored chopsticks, her full face of makeup, and the various accessories she is donning, indicate that she is into fashion. This photograph was taken by Hannah Schrenzel sometime before 2018. In its accumulation of detail, the image allows the young woman to slip loose from her taxonomic nook and begin to inspire questions. That’s one mark of a good image – the way its subjects spawn narratives in the viewer’s imagination. Who is this young woman? What must have it been like to be her?
We continue to look at Schrenzel’s images because of her uncanny talent for photography. What distinguishes her photos are their ability to provoke feeling; they instill a connection between subject and viewer and suggest an entire life through a static image. She became involved in photography after she was randomly placed in an analog photography class at Montclair State University. After inheriting many old cameras from her grandfather, who owned a photography store, she ultimately fell in love with film. “I try to test out as many types of film as I can. I was initially inspired by Richard Mosse to produce my aero chrome slide film, but continued to test out others. I use digital in order to capture my photos that involve colored lights, but I will always prefer film. I want to keep film alive, and inspire others to use it as well.”
Image: Toilet Talk