Houston artist Melanie Crader transformed the Women & Their Work space with her exhibition installation titled The Basics (flowers not included). Crader has painted some of the walls in the gallery pink with contrasting dark pink scallop trim, a basic black dress, and selection of pearls displayed in a case. Crader’s overall presentation is very minimal.
Ms. Crader’s work examined the notion of culturally constructed signs of ‘high femininity’ and their relationship to consumerism. The artist stated, “‘Femininity’ has often been regarded as a masquerade, a performance necessary to the production of gendered subjectivity. The performance of gender is easily recognized in the realm of fashion, or in the ways in which one presents their ‘exterior surface’ to others. Painting through the use of materials is transformed into an object of commodity that is presented and displayed. Like femininity, painting relies on the process of transformation and context of meaning.” Writer Jennifer McLerran statd about Crader’s work, “What we’re dealing with here is a play with those ideas of gender that are everywhere in our culture and a parody, really, of the ways in which people come to think of men and women …. She seems to be examining the ways in which our individual identities are formed. In particular, she is looking at the culturally constructed signs of femininity and their relationship to consumerism. Crader’s Flowers Not Included is a direct reference to fashion, design, color, and consumer culture. It looks like something we see in clothing catalogues.”