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What does a ‘female lens’ signify today?

This photography exhibition aims to provide the viewer with a wide range of female artists examining life in their own terms. With exclusively female photographers, the cliché that women see the world (and themselves) differently is examined.  Under inspection as well, is the evolving Californian aesthetic and growing prominence in the contemporary art scene.  


Jo Ann CallisSant Khalsa, Sandra Klein, Andréanne MichonGay Ribisi and Arden Surdam

Curated by Lynn Farrand and Laura PG Lewis

On  view now through December 9, 2017

Hours & Admission



Sponsored by: The City of Thousand Oaks and The Lake Avenue Group at Morgan Stanley

Jo Ann Callis, Woman with Black Line, 1976          Courtesy of ROSEGALLERY, Santa Monica.

Jo Ann Callis, Woman with Black Line, 1976          Courtesy of ROSEGALLERY, Santa Monica.

Jo Ann Callis, Man in Tie, 1976                                         Courtesy of ROSEGALLERY, Santa Monica 

Jo Ann Callis, Man in Tie, 1976                                         Courtesy of ROSEGALLERY, Santa Monica 

A Working Definition of “Post-Identity” by Olivia B. Murphy

To uncover the meaning of this complex term “post-identity,” we must first dive (however briefly) into its root term: identity. Although we all have personal identities that we claim or that are placed upon us, there are larger societal identities that exist in the politicized context. The creation of these are often derived from an oppressive binary system, where the “other” is codified as distinct from the so-called “norm” in an attempt to enforce the us vs. them duality that Western society is built upon. As Simone de Beauvoir states states in the introduction to her 1949 novel The Second Sex, “a man never begins by presenting himself as an individual of a certain sex; it goes without saying that he is a man…for man represents both the positive and neutral, as is indicated by the common use of man to designate human beings in general; whereas woman represents only the negative, defined by limiting criteria without reciprocity.”

Arden Surdam, Untitled from Hold Your Breath series, 2016 

Arden Surdam, Untitled from Hold Your Breath series, 2016 

About the Artists:

Jo Ann Callis is considered one of Los Angeles most influential female photographers working today. CMATO's audiences have the opportunity to view works that Jo Ann has only recently begun displaying, her early color photography works (circa 1979).  Her 'fabricated' photographs seemed designed to elicit associations about domesticity and submissive sexuality.

Sant Khalsa  might say her work reflects her artistic intimacy with nature and her lifelong passion of activism. Her imagery has a quiet controversy that slowly empowers the viewer to breathe deeply and reflect in the present moment. In her works, humanity is identified with nature; boulders, shrubs and brooks become centerfolds. 

Sandra Klein's works evoke a curiosity either about her view of the world or her magical mindset. There is a map to her personal history in her art that shows a personal struggle and vulnerability that an audience can empathize with. Her works draw the observer into a creative narrative; real or imagined, a journey down the rabbit hole to search introspectively begins. The focus of Klein’s work reaches beyond physical body and investigates the universe of the mind. Her work asks the viewer to open the shutters of the mind and focus on the composition of what lies within. Klein carefully layers imagery of mental health, spirituality, and the challenges of the human body as it ages.

Andréanne Michon engages viewers through her large format photographs, video and mixed-media installations. Her work encapsulates the viewer with their physical presence. Some of her photographic works are positioned upwards and span across the gallery walls, surrounding the viewer as if they are walking on nature trail. Her works are large images of dense groves, meant to exaggerate the contrast of nature against a thumbnail frame of a smartphone. Her intention is to widen this narrowed view encouraging us to break our dependence, or need, for a digital identity.

Gay Ribisi debuts her tender portraits exploring SSBBW (Super Sized Big Beautiful Women). Her monumental contemporary fertility goddesses provide a platform to discuss body image and  the historical change of ideal beauty. Privately collected, CMATO has the distinction of presenting  this series to public audiences for the first time.

Arden Surdam's  series “Hold Your Breath,”  creates mysterious forms that capture our imagination while simultaneously making us uneasy. Her mysterious creations elicit limitless identities in which to indulge. The artist invites us to imagine endlessly by leaving her works untitled.


About the Exhibition by CMATO's  Senior Curator, Lynn Farrand

On behalf of The California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks (CMATO) I am pleased to welcome these artists to  our region. The photographs we have chosen to exhibit speak to the issue of identity and assist in launching a dialogue about the concept of a possible post-identity era as well as introducing an important element of empathy.

The concept behind this exhibition is to reveal and discuss varying ways in which individuals or groups are identified, beyond the ‘old school’ categories of race, religion and gender. As a society, we are attempting a peaceful resolution to the culture wars by trying to be respectful to everyone. Is that possible? Can we make one group content without offending another? Does that mean we are in a Post-Identity Era?

Jo Ann Callis, Hands Grabbing Ankles, 1976 Courtesy of ROSEGALLERY, Santa Monica

Jo Ann Callis, Hands Grabbing Ankles, 1976 Courtesy of ROSEGALLERY, Santa Monica


Post-Identity?  by Claudia James Bartlett, Director photo l.a. ~ FOCUS photo l. a.

The art/photographic community has hundreds of thousands of women who make, publish, exhibit and sell their work and yet mostly men are championed.  

A few facts:

1. Work by women artists makes up only 3–5% of major permanent collections in the U.S. and Europe according to the American Community Survey from the National Endowment for the Arts.

 2. Though women earn half of the MFAs granted in the U.S., only 30% of artists represented by commercial galleries are women.

 3. At the Venice Biennale: The 2009 edition featured 43% women; in 2013, it dropped to 26%. In 2015, it was 33%, and in 2017 was 35%.  No major international exhibition of contemporary art has achieved gender parity.  Until this changes,  I maintain that we cannot be “Post- Identity”.

Sant Khalsa, Displaced Santa Ana River Rock, 2010

Sant Khalsa, Displaced Santa Ana River Rock, 2010

Sandra Klein  , Creative Growth, 2016

Sandra Klein, Creative Growth, 2016

Andréanne Michon ,   Quiver, 2017, Video Still

Andréanne Michon,  Quiver, 2017, Video Still

Gay Ribisi  , Untitled (#3), SSBBW Series, 2016

Gay Ribisi, Untitled (#3), SSBBW Series, 2016

Curator's Note by Laura PG Lewis

The Merchant of  Venice written in the late 1500’s is Shakespeare’s comedy centered on love, money, prejudice and social injustice. It exposes boldly, and troubling for modern audiences, situations of racial and religious intolerances and attitudes towards our differences that are still with us today.

Special thanks to our opening reception vendors: