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All These Parts Make Up Me

Gisela McDaniel

Installation View, Gisela McDaniel, All These Parts Make Up Me, 1F, Courtesy of the Artist and Arario Gallery. Photo by Ian YANG.

ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL presents the first solo exhibition in Korea of Gisela McDaniel (b. 1995, US), entitled All These Parts Make Up Me, from July 10 (Wed) to August 17 (Sat), 2024. McDaniel is a diasporic CHamoru artist with maternal roots in Guam, currently living and working in New York City. Drawing significant inspiration from her own identity, she has built a body of work that attempts to create whole portraits of historically marginalized individuals, including indigenous communities, people of color, mixed-race individuals, women, non-binary, and queer people. For those with diasporic identities, art is a crucial medium for exploring and expressing their complex identities, histories, and cultural narratives, which are often marginalized or misrepresented by mainstream discourse (Lucy Lippard, 1990). McDaniel’s paintings transform the narratives of the individuals depicted on the canvas into images and sounds, unfolding them in the present space. Occupying the ground floor and basement of ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL, the exhibition will showcase the artist’s latest practice from 2023 to 2024, featuring a total of 11 artworks. These include 10 assemblage paintings that combine images, objects, and sounds, as well as one object created specifically for the exhibition.

Installation View, Gisela McDaniel, All These Parts Make Up Me, 1F, Courtesy of the Artist and Arario Gallery. Photo by Ian YANG.

The Independant Bodies Rejecting Othering

McDaniel’s work begins her portraits with conversations with, what she terms, ‘subject-collaborators,’ building mutual empathy and discussing their particular life experience or story. The recorded voices from these conversations become a core component of the portraits she creates, existing as an audio recording alongside the painting. The artist’s mother, a CHamoru scholar and activist, shared with her since she was litte that “our bodies are good and, the above all, they are ours.” Each painting uniquely depicts the natural form of the body in a free and dynamic manner. Gisela McDaniel’s subject-collaborators present their own narratives to the outer world with a proactive attitude, resisting various forms of discrimination and violence against minorities.

Installation View, Gisela McDaniel, All These Parts Make Up Me, B1F, Courtesy of the Artist and Arario Gallery. Photo by Ian YANG.

Synesthetic Paintings Combining of Image, Object, and Sound – Exposing Individual Identities

Gisela McDaniel’s paintings incorporate the subject-collaborator’s personal belongings and voices as essential elements. McDaniel presents the intimate narratives of each individual in a multidimensional and synesthetic manner to her audience. Her body of work, which artistically blends fluorescent colors reminiscent of the radiant light of nature with the vivid voices of subject-collaborators, reminds us of the unique individuality of everyone living in the contemporary era. She combines images, objects, and sound—to depict a portrait of her subject-collaborators on canvas. Each painting strives to encapsulate the unique identity of that person. She refers to the small items received from each subject during the creative process as ‘consensual artifacts’ and integrates them into her works. These include personal items such as keys or a necklace, and parts of the body like hair or gel nails. The consensual artifacts not only carry traces of daily life but also subtly reveal personal preferences, individual histories, and cultural backgrounds.

Gisela McDaniel, All These Parts Make Up Me, Oil on canvas, fabric, keys from subject collaborator, sound, 116.8 x 94 x 17.8 cm, 2024, ⓒGisela McDaniel. Courtesy of the Artist, Pilar Corrias, and Arario Gallery.

The subject-collaborator of All These Parts Make Up Me (2024), Storm Ascher, sits for a portrait in New York City. Storm, a peer and friend whom the artist connected with through the art world years ago, shares her story of returning to New York and the generations of women who came before her. “This body only happened because of all that stuff. I like being here, I like being alive, even if the circumstances of how I was born were weird. So it also is kind of like a representation of all of us. Like, it’s not just me.” This is the second portrait of Storm, signifying a new chapter as she follows her own path back to the city, independent and full of possibility.

Gisela McDaniel, Compassion, Oil on canvas, object and text on paper from subject-collaborator, sound, 132.1 x 177.8 x 15.2 cm, 2023, ⓒGisela McDaniel. Courtesy of the Artist, Pilar Corrias, and Arario Gallery.

Crystal, the subject-collaborator of Compassion (2023), speaks about the emotional abuse and trauma she endured as a Black person growing up in a White society. She discusses the loneliness and suffering she experienced while realizing and grappling with her physical and cultural differences. Crystal confesses to the pain and confusion of her identity, stemming from the fact that she cannot precisely know her roots due to her ancestors’ history of suffering as slaves under colonialism. However, she also reflects on how beautiful the music and dance created and enjoyed by her distant ancestors must have been. In doing so, she aims to evoke a sense of compassion for both the societal perceptions that cannot be entirely fixed and for herself.

Gisela McDaniel, Never Ending Journey, Oil on canvas, found object, sound, 109.2 x 83.8 x 7.6 cm, 2023, ⓒGisela McDaniel. Courtesy of the Artist, Pilar Corrias, and Arario Gallery.

In Never Ending Journey (2023), the subject-collaborator Hannah shares her thoughts on the violence and discrimination she has faced as a woman, especially as a trans woman. She speaks about the wounds and trauma inflicted by unjust prejudices, whether from close relationships or strangers in everyday encounters. Hannah confesses that the fear and depression from such situations often lie dormant in her subconscious, only to resurface unexpectedly, making it feel like a never ending journey.

Gisela McDaniel, Bigger Than Me, Oil on canvas, flower, resin, necklace from subject-collaborators, sound, 165.1 x 279.4 x 17.8 cm, 2023, ⓒGisela McDaniel. Courtesy of the Artist, Pilar Corrias, and Arario Gallery.

In Bigger Than Me (2023), the subject-collaborator, a Black woman who studied nursing in community college, shares her journey of switching careers to dance. After leaving her job and drifting through various occupations, she received an offer via social media to perform in a Snoop Dogg stage show, prompting her to start learning dance in earnest. She soon fell in love with pole dancing and secured a position at a dance studio, eventually settling into the life of a dancer. Dancing around the pole, even without needing to be perfect, helped her develop flexibility and confidence. The pole became a symbol of endless possibilities, reminding her that no one is too big, too small, or too old to dance in their own way. Although she hesitated initially, not wanting to disappoint her parents who wished for her to follow a stable path, she now feels immense pride in her life, filled with nothing but love for dance, without any fear.

Gisela McDaniel, Living More, Oil on canvas, found object, sound, 106.7 x 139.7 x 15.2 cm, 2023, ⓒGisela McDaniel. Courtesy of the Artist, Pilar Corrias, and Arario Gallery.

Gisela Charfauros McDaniel was born in 1995 in Bellevue, Nebraska, US. She earned her BFA in Art & Design from the University of Michigan in 2019. Gisella McDaniel is currently on the Art Explora Residency in Paris, France, and she will be participating in the upcoming Hawaii Triennial 2025, entitled Aloha No. She has held solo exhibitions at venues including ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL (Seoul, Korea, 2024), Pilar Corrias (London, UK, 2022; 2020), The Mistake Room (Los Angeles, US, 2021), Playground Detroit (Detroit, US, 2019), and The Schvitz (Detroit, US, 2018). Her work has been featured in group exhibitions at institutions such as Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf, Germany, 2023), Museum of Fine Arts Boston (Boston, US, 2023), FLAG Art Foundation (New York, US, 2023), ICA Boston (Boston, US, 2022), Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, US, 2022), Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, US, 2021), CAC (Cincinnati, US, 2021), MOCAD (Detroit, US, 2021), Dhaka Art Summit (Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2020), Oolite Arts (Miami, US, 2019), and The Schvitz (Detroit, US, 2018). Her works are in the collections of various museums and foundations, including the Baltimore Museum of Art (US), Frye Art Museum (US), Hudson Valley MOCA (US), ICA Miami (US), Museum of Fine Arts Boston (US), New Orleans Museum of Art (US), Pérez Art Museum (US), UMMA (US), Aïshti Foundation (Lebanon), Blenheim Art Foundation (UK), Christen Sveaas Art Collection (Norway), Elie Khouri Art Foundation (UAE), Kadist (US), Ovitz Family Collection (US), Samdani Art Foundation (Bangladesh), The MER Collection (Spain), and The Perimeter (UK).


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