Women walk the edges in Living Dangerously at CIA

After decades of stasis, cultural changes around gender identity are now moving as if on a high-speed train. The scope and range of the female voice is expanding right along with it.

That’s all to say that Living Dangerously: Angela Dufresne and Nicola Tyson— on view through Dec. 16 at CIA’s Reinberger Gallery — offers a fresh look at the figure, landscape, painting and drawing through the eyes of two mid-career, lesbian artists. The energetic works aren’t exactly about feminism, but they do speak to beauty, body and role-playing.

Curated by Reinberger Gallery Director Bruce Checefsky, the show presents the first local opportunity to see Dufresne’s painting sand Tyson’s drawings on paper.

“I like that both women are older, because so much of the stuff you see in New York are by people in their twenties,” Checefsky says. “So they’re both very seasoned. And both women are gay, and I wanted to represent the LGBT community.  Their work is not a direct reflection of that, but it certainly informs the work to a certain degree.”

“The School of Gena Rowlands” by Angela Dufresne

Brooklyn, N.Y. artist Dufresne enlivens her paintings with vibrant pigment on canvases that allude to a confluence of influences, from classical oil painting to movies.  “They’re very cinematic,” Checefsky says. “I like her brushstrokes, her composition, her use of color, her style and place. She has created a very unique, signature style.”

In a review of Dufresne’s work in the online magazine Hyperallergic, writer John Yau called her canvases “direct and opaque, funny and sinister, seemingly ordinary and downright weird, creepy and mysterious.  But their real strength is that you cannot extract a story from them – that you can’t reduce what you see into some tale that you can take with you.”

“Pencil Stub,” ink on paper, by Nicola Tyson

Living Dangerously also brings 15 drawings on paper by Tyson, who came of age as a photographer in the London post-punk scene of the late 70s.  The drawings seem a far cry from the glammed-up excess of that era; most feel as if they began as figure drawings before warping into pure gesture or deformity.

“I like the way they’re kind of representational, but slightly abstract, and they’re complex,” Checefsky says. “There are drawings inside of drawings inside of drawings, and they unfold.”


Touching on issues of empathetic reenactments and archaic theatrical spaces, along with the limitations and claustrophobia of two dimensions, both Dufresene and Tyson emphasize not only the artist’s hand but also the eccentric fluidity of shapes and textures, and rowdy playful sequence of theatricality.

To see Checefsky’s interview with the artists, visit cia.edu/galleryguy

Cleveland Institute of Art
Reinberger Gallery
11610 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

Scholastic Art + Writing Exhibition. See the works of young artists and writings from Cuyahoga County in this annual competition and exhibition. Reinberger Gallery, Cleveland Institute of Art, January 14 – February 1, 2017


Michael Bierut: A presentation by the legendary: graphic designer and design critic.
Peter B. Lewis Theater, Cleveland Institute of Art, January 27, 2017


Student Independent Exhibition. SIE, CIA’s long-running student-driven show, opens in Reinberger Gallery. It’s in its 70th year. February 10 – March 19, 2017