A special artist is helping to open a new gallery at the Joslyn Art Museum.
Artist iROZEAlb (iona rozeal brown) will be featured in the first exhibit at Joslyn's Karen and Doug Riley Contemporary Artists Project Gallery, which opened Saturday.
The District of Columbia native will show a series of paintings inspired by ukiyo-e woodblock prints and shunga, a traditional Japanese art centered on sex.
iROZEAlb has reimagined these works in her exhibit. She shifted the dynamic of the original shunga work away from full nudity and intercourse to the tension between a couple before physical intimacy happens — the moment before a kiss.
The artist said she was originally drawn to the shunga work because it often featured courtesans and geishas who were significantly younger than their partners. She wanted the opportunity to counter that because it bothered her that very young women were put into these situations. She said she wanted to focus instead on more healthy intimate scenarios.
iROZEAlb said she does this to take a stand and, in a way, right a wrong. She was molested when she was a very young girl.
“I can't change what happened to me — I can only change what I do moving forward,” she said. “There's a lot of solace for me in looking at these prints and then taking them and depicting them into something that's much more healthy.”
iROZEAlb has also modernized the prints, pulling in elements from hip-hop culture including headphones, speakers, sweatshirts and sneakers. She said that when she works, she's exposed to everything at the same time: She's looking at anime, watching “The Big Bang Theory” and Kurosawa films, and listening to music.
Her exhibition at the Joslyn includes several pieces, including three newer works and a mural she completed on site in the Joslyn's newest gallery. The work is appropriate for children; iROZEAlb said she wanted them to be able to interact with it.
The Riley CAP gallery will host work from internationally recognized artists as well as work by newer, emerging artists. It will be the first Joslyn gallery reserved for living artists.
iROZEAlb's exhibition will be on view through May 11. The exhibit is free.