Amanda Rowan’s multimedia performance project Place Setting collaborates with the narrative and artifacts of three generations of women at the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe.
Amanda Rowan’s provocative still life and self-portrait images depict playful and sensual moments, eliciting humor through an exploration of the power and vulnerability of womanhood. Rowan is both curator and subject in each richly styled vignette.
“Place Setting was created during my Women’s International Study Center fellowship at the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2021. I had the rare opportunity to engage with the private collections of three generations of women who inhabited this home and founded it as a salon for artists. The matriarch Eva Scott Fényes moved to the territory of New Mexico after her divorce in the late 19th century. Through her efforts, the space has fostered local artists and craftspeople for nearly 100 years.
“Place Setting is a collaboration with the extensive archive of personal artifacts of Fényes and her daughters. I sought to capture the duality of the space. In one sense, a reaction to privilege and aristocracy, and at the same time, a celebration of autonomy in the American Southwest as independent women. I began this collaboration by wearing their clothing and recreating intimate moments with their objects. I continued by building formal still life sculptures and recreating elaborate dinner parties from archival recipe books. The images explore a surrealist narrative of domestic labor and ideas of property and independence linked to the trappings of class and gender.
“Additionally, a large inspiration for the work was the opulent religious idols of the Virgin of Guadalupe found throughout the landscape of New Mexico. These iconic images of the Virgin Mary were created and recreated by Spanish conquistadors and colonists. I am interested in the ways her power parallels the expectation of women to protect their virtue as a commodity while promoting sexuality and fertility for the benefit of patriarchal oppression.”
The project is a multimedia performance piece that exists in photographs, film, and interactive sculptures. The exhibition at Acequia Madre House opens May 20, 2022.
A graduate of New York University, Rowan’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her commercial work appears in advertising campaigns and her editorial portraits include global artists, performers, and pop celebrities. Rowan is currently a faculty member at the Photo Arts Conservatory at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.
Santa Fe, New Mexico | Los Angeles, California | amandarowan.com | @amandarowanimagery
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Correction 2/28/2022: At the artist’s request some of the language of the artist’s statement has been modified and the title of the project has changed. This article has been updated to reflect that change.