According to the Law of Jante, in most Nordic countries it’s considered embarrassing or distasteful for individuals to brag or boast of their own possessions and achievements or to shine too brightly as an ambitious self-promoter or striver. But for women whose ambitions and desires have been held back and suppressed by a dominant patriarchy, why not show the complexity, power, and brilliance of their inner light, even if only to lift up and elevate other women? This is the question that the Canadian-born, Swedish-based artist Shahla K. Friberg, who was raised in a patriarchal Persian community, is asking in One in the Whole, her debut solo exhibition at Marie Kirkegaard Gallery.
Known for her three-dimensional stained glass sculptures and wall works, which have been shown throughout America and Europe, for this exhibition Friberg has created three new fused glass “light paintings” that have the illusion of portals and arched windows - stretching 180 cm tall and 100 cm wide - that depict abstract images of nurturing, birth, and rebirth, and the various facets of feminine power through time and space. ‘When light penetrates the fused stained glass it casts the images onto whatever surface is on the other side’, says Friberg. ‘So if you are standing behind the painting, these potent feminine forms will literally wrap around your body. I want people to feel the embrace of these paintings and be comforted by the warmth, color, and light that activate this secondary phenomenological experience’.
Friberg will also unveil her new protruding loop sculptures made from soldered mirror fragments that will emerge from the gallery walls, draped in fabric, and disappear back into them like energy fields momentarily breaking through a barrier. In addition to these works, she will debut a new totem-like stained glass sculpture (spanning 155 cm tall) whose curvatures and undulations invoke those of Ruth Asawa’s looped wire sculptures. And for the first time, Friberg will show a decadeold body of Holga photographs capturing light dancing on the streets of New York City. These works are all meditations on female empowerment, women's roles as a reflection of the surrounding community, and an inner lightness of being that is too often prevented from realizing its full potential.
‘I’m introducing new mediums to interact with one another and hopefully creating another sense or sensory experience that exists between this juxtaposition of light and dark, hard and soft’, says Friberg. ‘It’s this ephemeral space that is charged with power and I want to capture that power in the space of this show. It’s a reminder for women to recognize the strength they have within, this complex, beautiful power they can, and must, tap into and harness’.