Photography has been historically a male-dominated field and in many ways this is still the case. However, since the inception of photography, women have played a critical role in shaping the narratives of their communities and used the medium to advocate for a cause — often while tackling stereotypes of what women can and should photograph.
There is a certain level of authenticity that comes from work produced by photographers who have a direct connection to what they photograph. Great photography can inspire, educate and shift perspectives — and it’s often women who are at the forefront of this movement.
The exhibition Her Focus presents intimate work by Chelsea Michelle, Esther Tuddenham, Megan Hunter, Leah Jing, Jazz Acuña, Victoria Acuña, Rachel Suarez, Jody Haines and Pia Johnson.
Curated by Jessica Ibacache.
OPENING: Friday 6 September, 6pm – 8pm
EXHIBITION: Friday 6 September – Saturday 28 September
I’m a storyteller. A social activist. A feminist change-maker. I visually forge a new collection of women’s images that place women first. Photography, light and video are my tools. My practice, I make honest portraits with women – and that’s my greatest privilege. Applying a collaborative and relational act to making, I use photography to inspire people to see themselves and for other people to meet them eye-to-eye. Both art and activism is my calling, I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to connect with people, deeply and daily, for a living. I’m Jody; I’m a photo media artist – I chip away daily at the fabric of our social bias, one photo at a time.
Chelsea has been making art since primary school. She joined FCAC’s ArtLife program nine years ago in 2010. Her art is about patterns from her heart. She uses pens, textas, paint, paper and animation. Her imagination inspires her. She has exhibited work in ArtLife and have performed in London, Edinburgh, Hong Kong and Japan.
Pia Johnson is a photographer and visual artist, whose practice seeks to investigate issues about cultural difference, diaspora and identity. She also has a strong practice in portrait and performance photography, working with major and independent arts organisations in Australia. Pia has exhibited throughout Australia, the USA, China, Japan and Mexico. She has been a finalist in many photography awards, and is regularly invited as a guest speaker and artistic advisor for a range of organisations. Her work is collected in private and public collections including the National Gallery of Victoria. Recent highlights include solo exhibitions Cusp (2019) at Stockroom, She that came before me (2018) at Manningham Art Gallery, being a finalist in the Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize (2019) and group exhibition All That We Can’t See (2018).
Megan Claire Hunter
Megan works with strong, bold lines, vibrant colours and painting. Her first memory of making art is when her mum bought her canvases when she was nine or ten, and she painted them. She joined ArtLife around fifteen years ago. Her art is about the world around her and her mind. She uses patterns, pencils, pastel and paint to make her art. She gets inspired by dogs, her nephew, Chelsea Michelle and Esther Tuddenham, her imagination and memories. She has exhibited at ArtLife end of year exhibitions and performed in Hong Kong and China with the Amplified Elephants.
Leah Jing is a writer and photographer. The founding editor of Liminal magazine, she has worked with The New York Times, the Emerging Writers Festival, Australian National University, the National Gallery of Australia, amongst other organisations, to promote the work of Asian-Australian creative. In 2019, Leah is one of four Victorian nominees for the 2019 Young Australian of the Year—as announced by Books + Publishing.
Rachel Suárez is an emerging artist from Melbourne. She is a first generation Australian with her family originating from El Salvador in Central America. Rachel has exhibited in galleries across Victoria and New South Wales such as Neospace, The Artists Guild and National Art School with many works in private collections. In 2016, Suárez was awarded a study tour scholarship to Hong Kong through RMIT Global Experiences and the following year, was selected as a finalist for the Graeme Hilbebrand Foundation Art Prize. Rachel has recently completed an internship at Blak Dot Gallery and works as an educator and mentor at Little Creatures Collective.
Esther Louise Tuddenham
Esther has been making art since she was six years old, and has a memory of being out the front of her childhood house, painting on an easel with her sister. Her art is about expression and colour in many forms and finding herself. To make her art, Esther uses what she feels inside, to get in touch with her emotions. She uses a camera, pens, textas and other materials, as well as music to dance to. Music inspires Esther the most in art, as it makes her think and feel. Nature also plays a part in that it makes her see life in many ways. Esther has exhibited and performed with many groups through ArtLife, since joining in 2008. She has exhibited paintings and photography at the end of most years and performed poetry with a group called “The Ambient Orchestra”.
Jazz Acuña is a Melbourne based visual artist, poet and songwriter who draws influence from the intersections between chronic illness, gender, and multicultural identities.
Victoria Acuña is a visual artist and activist based in Melbourne. Drawing from her experience as a disabled, nonbinary woman of colour, Victoria’s work seeks to voice the nuance & intersections of her reality through online storytelling. You can find her mixed media projects on Instagram: @bickylabiscuit & YouTube: /bickylabiscuit & /chronicles.kv
Presented as part of FCAC’s Women, Art and Politics Program.
1- Caroline Garcia. Image by Leah Jing.