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BU grad student ‘tackles’ women objectification with South Boston art exhibition

Eva Lewis, a soon-to-be master of fine arts graduate of painting at Boston University, currently has her artwork on display at the LaiSun Keane gallery in the SoWa Art and Design District near South Boston.

Eva Lewis art showcase profile
Eva Lewis, a master of fine arts graduate candidate at Boston University, and her work at the LaiSun Keane gallery. This is the first solo showcase of Lewis’ work, which emphasizes the use of color and different body types. TALIA LISSAUER/DFP STAFF

Lewis’ art generally focuses on female-identifying peoples in different spaces, such as nature or domestic spaces.

She said she draws inspiration from personal memories and that many of her paintings may be loosely based on mythological stories. Lewis explained how Greek and Roman mythology often relied on the objectification of women for the sake of symbolism, which is what primarily sets her apart from traditional Renaissance artists.

“I definitely am trying to take a reclamation of those scenarios and putting these women in more of an authority of the space they’re in,” Lewis said.

“Disparate,” the name of Lewis’ exhibition at LaiSun Keane, is the artist’s first solo showcase of this historical commentary. The gallery provides her with the opportunity to chat about technique with many different people.

“I got a lot of responses from people like female identifying people who went to the show that said they really related to the work and thought that it was something that they could see themselves in or see themselves around,” Lewis said.

Lewis’ work includes the use of oil and acrylic paints and incorporates a lot of color. After coming from her hometown of Dayton, Ohio to BU, she was forced to employ “different ways of using color,” she said.

The gallery owner, LaiSun Keane, also commented on these aspects, emphasizing Lewis’ use of color. Lewis works with a lot of “bright pink and magenta or deep pink or red,” she said.

“All those colors are so interesting to me because using monochrome is actually harder than using the whole palette right in the color spectrum,” Keane said.

Keane first saw Lewis’ work at a group exhibition in another gallery across from LaiSun Keane and reached out to her for a studio visit. Keane said she was impressed not only by her paintings but her personality as well and said “she’s young and dynamic. She’s really fun to talk to.”

Keane said she was first intrigued by Lewis’ perspective, being a woman from the Midwest, but also found universal meaning in her paintings.

“What I was concerned about is more the representation of women. She, to me, stood out because of the body positivity in her subjects in her painting,” she said.

Lewis said representing different body types actually helps to expand upon the scenarios her paintings are based on.

“I might not have this certain type of body but I know somebody does,” Lewis said.

Through distortion, especially in body proportions, Lewis said she likes having the ability “to be able to break the body if I need to.”

Keane, whose gallery focuses primarily on non-mainstream voices such as women and minority artists, said she likes “to champion emerging artists.” Keane said she appreciated Lewis’ art for its influence by the aesthetics of the Renaissance and Rococo art movements and how she “uses it to make her own representation.”

“I think annually we probably produce, quite a lot of, hundreds of graduates,” Keane said. “But they don’t have a place to show. So as a Boston gallery, I feel that it’s my responsibility and my obligation to feature local artists.”

Typically, Keane’s gallery features about nine to 11 shows a year, each one running for about four to five weeks.

“Art is actually a reflection of the society we live in,” Keane said. “The more access we have to art, the better we are as people.”

Lewis’ exhibition made its premiere with an opening reception on April 1.

“It was a really wonderful, fun event because a lot of Boston University students came,” Keane said.

The following day, the gallery hosted an artists talk between Lewis and Lucy Kim, an associate professor of art, painting at BU. Lewis has been a student of Kim’s for two years now as she nears the end of her MFA program.

“Eva is a very promising young artist who truly loves her medium [oil paint] and the discipline of painting,” Kim wrote in an email interview. “The joy emanates from her paintings.”

For advice to young artists, Lewis said being consistent is extremely important.

“It’s hard to be consistent, especially in a world that calls for us to do so many things and it has a lot of expectations from us,” Lewis said. “But whether it’s like just drawing in a sketchbook consistently or painting every night or every other day, just some sort of practice. That consistency will help lead you to where you want to go.”

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for this profile, which sent me to the gallery website. Beautiful, moving work.