September 4 – October 18, 2008
An opening reception with the artist at the Stoneham Theatre is October 5, 4:30-6:30 p.m. It is open to all. Please RSVP to 781-729-1158 by September 30.
After four years of photographing exotic dancers, a world she knew intimately as a dancer herself for more than a decade, Charise Isis focused her lens on a new subject, drag queens. Hudson Valley of the Dolls, a series of photographs of a small troupe of drag queens that performs regularly in the Hudson Valley of New York, is featured in
The Griffin Museum’s Atelier Gallery at the Stoneham Theatre in Stoneham, MA, September 4 through October 18. The exhibition will run parallel to the theatre’s performance of Pageant.
“I felt I had understood much of this world,’’ Isis says of the drag queens. “For years, I had donned heels, glitter, and way too much makeup and I had existed as part of a fringe group that was also much misunderstood.’’
Coincidentally, after receiving the wrong mail, Isis discovered she lived next door to a drag queen with the same last name. Their meeting gave her entrée into the world of the performing troupe The Hudson Valley Dolls. The photographer says the resulting project “offers an exploration of the beauty, creativity, and strength that exists within this group of individuals and shares their passion and humanity through the art of photography.’’
“Charise Isis’ photographs of the drag performance troupe, Hudson Valley Dolls are intimate portraits reminiscent of Brassaï’s photographs of nightlife in the margins of Paris in the late 20s and 30s,” says Paula Tognarelli, executive director of the Griffin Museum of Photography. “Isis’ use of grain adds a veil of mystery and perhaps secrecy to her photographs. She frames her images at slightly offset angles and sometimes with a blurred focus that suggest the energy and bravado of her subjects while they are on stage. This off-kilter framing might also speak to the initial but very brief nervousness of the audience. Isis has an ability that quickly places the viewer at ease for the rest of the performance.”
Before working as a fine art photographer, Isis, of Kingston, N.Y., was an exotic dancer. During that time, she took pictures of her colleagues, which were published in her first book, “American Stripper.’’ Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is in the permanent collection at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York at New Paltz, and in the photography collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
Isis also specializes in boudoir portraits and has an international clientele. She says her work “challenges society’s impossible standards of beauty, allowing women of all different ages, shapes, and sizes, and in varying transitional phases of life to be able to express their sensuality and beauty.’’ Her work can be seen at www.isisimages.net.