Sara Greenberger Rafferty
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
October 15, 2021 – February 06, 2022
The 85th installment of Carnegie Museum of Art’s Forum series presents new works by Brooklyn-based artist Sara Greenberger Rafferty (b. 1978). Rafferty creates connections between people and engages their senses with her multimedia practice which addresses ever changing implications for photography in the digital era. A former department store window dresser, Rafferty draws on her skills as a merchandiser to create alluring artworks that challenge stereotypical notions of beauty and gender.
Her Make-up Testers incorporate photographs of colorful palettes to address the role of cosmetics and advertising imagery in creating unrealistic societal standards. Rafferty also uses images of mannequins to underscore the disconnect between how bodies are “supposed” to look versus how they actually look. The artist also presents a new site-specific mural, THE DEAD 20TH CENTURY, which acts as a backdrop to several works and covers the largest wall in the gallery with thumbnail images of items for sale in online art, design, and furniture auctions.
Many of the works in the exhibition were created by a unique kiln-firing process that vitrifies images printed with powdered glass. Glass is the primary material for touchscreens on phones, tablets, and other personal electronic devices, which makes it an ideal medium for Rafferty’s process-driven practice. Other imagery in the exhibition, including magnifying glasses, telephones, and power buttons, reference different senses. Aromas emanating from cut flowers Rafferty places in several of the pieces even create an olfactory experience.
Rafferty further encourages an active relationship with her artworks by including cut flowers in several of them. These flowers, which will be changed several times during the run of the exhibition, were selected by Carnegie Museum of Art’s Youth Arts Initiative, an advisory group focused on the engagement, advancement, and support of local Pittsburgh-area teens. Their selection, made in collaboration with museum staff and Rafferty, are intended to reflect the changing seasons and evoke the passage of time. All works in the exhibition appear courtesy of the artist and DOCUMENT, Chicago.