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Mj Viano Crowe, “Le Musée de la Femme”

Mj Viano Crowe will present “Le Musée de la Femme” at the Spéos Annex, 5 rue Bouvier, 75011 Paris, from April 4th to April 27th.

Opening of the exhibition: 4th April 2023, from 6pm to 9pm.

About the exhibition

The world of imaging was very different, perhaps even primitive by today’s standards, when Maryjean Viano Crowe created Le Musée de la Femme and Le Cirque Eternel. Thirty years ago, most image making was done by hand, in the dark, using film and an array of chemical solutions, some of them fairly toxic. It was the hands-on, the pre-digital age. The mouse, the hard drive and Photoshop were still in their crude infancies. 

Nine foggy Paris winters in the 1990s — teaching the RISD winter session at Spéos — influenced the work you see exhibited here. Solitary afternoons at the Musée de L’Homme and other, lesser-known museums, inspired her to create images of mythological creatures in mystical environments.

Maryjean Viano Crowe photographed dozens of natural world subjects, then assembled large composite negatives of those images and embellished them with drawing and sgraffito. The final composite negatives were the essential component in her creative process. In the darkroom, she printed sections, often at different magnifications and exposures, reassembled the printed sheets to express her ideas, and later polychromed them in daylight with photographic toners.

About the photographer

Mj Viano Crowe creates large-scale photographic constructions, light box shrines, artist books, and mixed media paintings and paper cut prints. 

To this day, much of her work features representations of the female figure in settings and on stages she creates for them, usually surrounded by their own private universes. Those settings frequently take the form of a complex planetary arrangement of fanciful ephemera, such as birds and insects, to flora and fauna orbiting the background, structured in the style of manuscript illuminations, visually suggesting an extension of the central figures’ intricate, emotional worlds.

In 2019, Viano Crowe’s 20’ long photographic mural, RELIQUARY, was exhibited at the DeCordova Museum through 2020. In 2021, her 7-foot-long accordion book, “Mother Nature Holds Her Breath”, was shown in the international exhibition, Reclamation, at the San Francisco Center for the Book, and in 2022 at the Decatur Arts Alliance, Georgia. 

Included in numerous museum collections, including the Polaroid International Collection, Bokartas Arts in Lithuania and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, Viano Crowe received a 1995 National Endowment for the Arts in Photography, and a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Fellowship in 1987. She lives and works in Belfast, Maine. 

From 1991-1999, Maryjean taught the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) winter session at Spéos. RISD continued their collaboration with Spéos for 25 years total.

> View the Video biography of Mj Viano Crowe, painter, photographer, mixed media artist

> See the news on RISD Alumni website

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