Still Hung Up | BONFIRE Gallery in Seattle, Washington

Monday, July 04, 2022 10:58 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

Hats off to BONFIRE Gallery for another cutting-edge exhibit with two of the most outrageous artists in Seattle. Deborah Faye Lawrence and Nancy Kiefer both push the boundaries of what is acceptable, but in strikingly different ways. The title, “Still Hung Up,” refers to a phrase that used to refer to passionate affairs gone wrong. But now it means the artists’ obsession with creativity.  

Nancy Kiefer has a long career of creating insanely confrontational, close up images of women. They are sassy, angry, beautiful, naughty, and recently tragic in her mothers of the disappeared from her “Fierce Woman” series.  These are not easy to look at, the colors are harsh, highly saturated and discordant. Kiefer’s use of black line is aggressive. But what immediately almost overwhelms us is the power of all of these women, whether they undulate like a flame as in “Eye Rise,” offer protection with a flip of a long nailed hand in “Gorgon (Protector),” or hold a terrifying witch mask in “Puppet.” 

Kiefer is a storyteller as well as a painter, and we see stories in these faces. She exposes the grotesque in our public world with these private women. Kiefer boldly strips away the outside and gives us only the inside and it is, of course, also her own intense emotional experiences that inform these works. 

Deborah Faye Lawrence disrupts us with collaged images that create unexpected juxtapositions paired with an intense choice of words and references. She frequently uses tin TV trays as the ground for her complex collages. Like Kiefer, her women are strong and naughty. In “Hen Party,” four rooster headed acrobats perch on others only partially seen. They triumphantly hold at bay an intense onslaught of pointed streamers from every direction, each with a different barbed expletive for women. 

In “Fluid Self-Portrait,” another collage on a tray, a 1950s woman with pearls and heavy glasses balances spherical wooden tops on two fingers of each hand. Her body is an unstable stack of plates balanced on another top, in a landscape of tops. The whole suggests an impossible situation even as the woman beams a huge cheerful smile. The message is clear.

Lawrence has been making powerful collage for decades. She addresses specific political events, feminism, and personal history, as she undermines cliches and takes on causes. Her sardonic humor  wakes us up.    

BONFIRE explodes with feminist energy with “Still Hung Up.” These intense artworks show us how to resist the multiple abuses of women’ rights world-wide. Here in our country, of course, we have the imminent loss of the right to an abortion. 

These artists tell us we are already angry and outrageous, now we need to act on it!

Susan Noyes Platt

Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog and for local, national, and international publications.

“Still Hung Up” is on view July 20 through August 20, Thursday through Saturday 12 to 5 P.M., at BONFIRE Gallery, located at 603 South Main Street in Seattle, Washington. Opening Reception: Wednesday, July 20, 6-8P.M. First Thursday Reception: August 4, 6-8 P.M. For more information, visit


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