Presence and Performance



Presence and Performance: Queer-Feminist Bodies
Art Opening
Femina Potens

Presence and Performance: Queer-Feminist Bodies
Valerie Gilman, Corkey Sinks, and Kelley Heider
Curated by Roya Amirsoleymani


How might we re-conceive of feminist art in ways that privilege women’s bodies, pleasures, memories, and sexualities rather than avoiding representations of these things? What does it mean to present—and represent— feminist art in 2007? What is revisited, what has changed, and what makes feminist art necessary still?

In turn, to examine the provocative intersection of feminist and queer philosophies and practices asks us to consider what feminism and queer have to say to each other, where they meet, and how they interact. Presence and Performance cares most about those texts—images, words, performances, experiences, conversations, and moments—which ask: what can feminism and queer do for each other, and what does that relationship look like?

Presence and Performance includes photography, sculpture, printmaking, installation, and mixed-media by Valerie Gilman (PA), Corkey Sinks (Austin, TX), and Kelley Heider (CA). The exhibition urges viewers to ponder a subversion of sex/gender norms and the social conditions surrounding them. By situating the body as a site and point of departure for exploring, theorizing, and practicing queer-feminism, these artists visually articulate connections of material bodies to cultural effects and the politics of images. As their drastically different mediums and styles dialogue, dynamic interpretations emerge of queer-feminist embodiment as a complex and diverse position, at once visible and indefinable, difficult and open, problematic and productive.

Roya Amirsoleymani (curator)
Roya graduated from the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands with a self-designed degree in Space, Image, and Desire: Contemporary Visual Culture, Gender and Sexuality.

Most of her personal work, conversations, and everyday thoughts engage intersections of contemporary visual culture and feminist, gender, and queer theory and politics, often amounting to critical writings, readings, makings, and happenings, but mostly a lot of restlessness.

Her past experience includes curatorial research at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; an independent study in Prague on contemporary Czech feminist art; exhibition assistance at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art; public relations for a women’s short film festival; and a response to Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “The Gates.”

Most recently in Phoenix, Roya worked in visual communications and new programming with a non-profit women’s center and as Public Relations Director for the non-profit Phoenix Art Space.

Valerie Gilman
Valerie Gilman teaches Ceramics and Sculpture at Allegheny College. New to Allegheny, she has taught these subjects at the college level since 1998. She earned her MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997, and also attended Earlham College, where she graduated with honors and a major in fine arts in 1988.

During the years between undergraduate and graduate studies, Gilman was a full time ceramic artist, selling work in East Coast crafts markets and installing annual solo exhibits in local venues. The materials of her recent work include cast bronze, welded steel, wax, ceramics and encaustic or wax paintings.  She has shown nationally in both one- and two-person shows and juried exhibits, and she has been a resident artist at Ragdale Art Colony outside of Chicago and the Vermont Studio Center in Northern Vermont.

Kelley Heider
Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Heider has lived and worked in Redlands, California since graduating in 2005 from the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands.  While her degree emphasis was in photojournalism, her course of study focused heavily on identity theory and cultural studies.

Her most recent work, in a variety of mediums including traditional and digital photography, video, installation, painting, and mixed-media, focuses on self-exploration and her desire to provoke it in others. 

“I am at a point in my life where there is certainly cause to question all things and pay careful attention to the connectedness of my reality,” says Heider. “Thus, most of my inspiration comes from an attempt to connect everyday experiences with the dark corners of my mind. I am haunted by the question “What if?,” and my existence is spent trying to come up with possibilities.”


The Prisoner’s Dilemma
Artist: Corkey Sinks
Photo by artist


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Artist: Corkey Sinks
Photo by artist

Corkey Sinks
Corkey Sinks was born and raised in Dallas, Texas.  She attended the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands, California, where she studied studio art and film and received a B.A. titled “Media Studies: Art, Film, and the Politics of Images.” Returning to the Lone Star state, she currently resides in Austin, where she works at the artist-run gallery Okay Mountain and plays a Casiotone while singing in a band called Smoke Detector with fellow Okay Mountaineer, Josh Rios. Sinks’ fascination with situational speech patterns and fantasies about meeting her doppelganger drives her work, a variety of media ranging from craft and textiles to performance and video, focusing primarily on concepts of social/personal development and creating visual dialogue.