Krista Profitt: Shavers, Savers, Mansplainers

Arcadia University Alumni Spotlight Exhibition

“Krista Profitt: Shavers, Savers, Mansplainers”
October 6, 2017 – December 3, 2017
Harrison and Rosedale Galleries, University Commons

The "Arcadia University Alumni Spotlight Exhibition: Krista Profitt: Shavers, Savers, Mansplainers” will be on display through December 3, 2017, in both of Arcadia’s recently renamed exhibition spaces located in the University Commons. 

The Harrison Gallery (formerly the Commons Art Gallery) will introduce a new series of works which depict Profitt’s darkly satirical exploration of issues related to institutional authority, social standards of beauty, and gender inequality. The Rosedale Gallery (formerly the Great Room Lobby Gallery) will present a selection of paintings spanning her artistic evolution between 2011 and 2015. 

About the Exhibition

In her most recent series of 12 oil paintings, Profitt depicts a dystopian reality which she describes as, “a world dominated by a powerful hierarchy. Males ascend to adulthood via a rite of passage in which they shave together, they meet together, determine standards of beauty, and perform rituals. Conversely, women are baptized, bathed, and prepared according to a prescribed set of rules established by the men.” The images in this series depict these various grooming rituals in action. Through choices of scale and composition, Profitt positions the viewer in the center of these activities, to stand as either witness or participant.

Her painterly approach, which, for the most part, forgoes heavily rendered detail or realistic sense of depth, harkens back to the experiments in figuration undertaken by painters such as Philip Guston (1913-1980) and David Park (1911-1960) at the height of abstract expressionism. Similar to the works of New York-based artist Nicole Eisenman, Profitt’s expressionistic treatment creates a psychological distance between the viewer and her constructed reality. The resulting abstraction and flattening provide a measure of time in which to acclimate to the imagery and allows for the possibility of recognizing just how chillingly similar Profitt’s constructed reality may be to our own.

Krista Profitt, *skull shaver, soul saver* (2017) oil on canvas

The works created between 2011 and 2015 presented in the Rosedale Gallery reveal the development of Profitt’s stark, narrative approach to image making, characterized by a seamless combination of brutal self-analysis and disarming charm. Paintings such as Allentown Rest Stop: Roy Roger’s Before it Closed (2011) and The Togetherness (2012) seem to represent memories of relatively mundane moments from Profitt’s own life – a meal with relatives, or sitting in the backseat during a family road trip. However, instead of returning to these memories with a sense of nostalgia or longing, she transforms herself and – presumably her family –  into faceless, vibrating blurs forced awkwardly together into compositions that seem barely capable of holding them.

In paintings such as Peer Review (2014) Profitt continues to brood on her own life experiences, but now focuses on her interactions with her colleagues and mentors in academia. The question of “What happens when I am not around?” is answered in her imagination by transforming faculty meetings or group critiques into dreary, sexless orgies. It would be easy for the viewer to stand in judgment of Profitt as she bravely bears witness to her own moments of frailty or insecurity, but for the opportunity her paintings provide us to reflect on our own doubts and weaknesses.

In her newly completed canvases, being presented to the public in this exhibition for the first time, Profitt has shifted her ruthless internal gaze outward and onto issues in the broader cultural discourse related to the injustices women experience in a male-dominated society. The rawness with which Profitt continues to render her new characters maintains the sense that the emotional stakes involved in these works are still very personal, but have been tempered with a sense of the allegorical and an address to the history of her medium.

About the Artist

Based in Horsham, Pennsylvania, Profitt earned her M.F.A. in painting from Illinois State University in 2015. Since then she has served as both a professor in the foundation's curriculum and as the shop technician for Arcadia’s Department of Art and Design.

In 2017 she co-founded Spillway Collective, an artist-run space based in the Crane Arts Center in Philadelphia. Her work has been included in exhibitions at University of the Arts, Philadelphia; Front Room Gallery, New York; and the former Ebersmoore Gallery, Chicago.