Orange County art exhibit celebrates female pioneers

OCOEE, Fla. – An art exhibit named after the female chromosome, XX, showcases the determination of women who have overcome challenges to pave the way.

The exhibit can be found inside A Perfect Union Art Gallery in West Oaks Mall.

Gareth Edwards is the owner of the gallery. He said this is the second year they’ve had this exhibit in honor of Women’s History Month.

“It‘s an occasion to pay homage to the remarkable women whose contributions have shaped our lives and to honor the trailblazing pioneers who have paved the way for generations to come. This is a special exhibition featuring trailblazing female artists, highlighting their impactful work and enduring legacy,” Edwards said.

Through paintings and sculptures, each piece tells a story of empowerment and resilience.

Participating artists include Patricia Byron, Linda Brant, Jolie Spelman, Jessica-King Rodriguez, Yve Nix, Janae Corrado, Natasha Radovicz Schaidt, Libby Smith, Marsha De Broske, Heather Gorlitz Scott and Cathy Hempel.

Byron said her two pieces of artwork pay tribute to the women of Iran.

Patricia Byron’s paintings, “Unveiled” and “Persian Love Letter” pay tribute to the women of Iran. (Gareth Edwards)

“‘Unveiled’ is symbolic of future hope for the stringent and compulsory dress code forced upon girls and women. The veiled women depicted in the painting are posed bravely in anticipation of freedom from years of oppressive patriarchy,” Byron said.

“‘Persian Love Letter’ represents a group of women leaving a letter of encouragement for the women who have endured years of persecution. The rose and red hues in the painting are symbolic to passion, and pays tribute to the carnage in the name of freedom,” Byron explained.

Smith said she is going blind and can no longer see faces, except at a close distance.

“I knew it was coming, so I spent my entire lifetime memorizing the world, especially people, so I would always be able to create. Now I am being driven by the emotions I hear in other’s voices and my own,” she said.

Smith’s two paintings on display in the picture at the top of this article show two women who she believes are unstoppable, Maya Angelou and Nina Simone.

Her painting of Maya Angelou called “An Open Door” shows her as a child’s shadow always watching over and happy that another door is open.

“Maya Angelou expressed what I have felt my entire life in these words: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ I truly want to make people feel,” Smith said.

Her other painting of civil rights activist, Nina Simone, is called “A New Dawn.”

“She always considered herself a concert pianist. It’s all she wanted to do. Her activism was triggered by the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing where 4 children were killed, and many injured. Her music told the history of the time, and the emotions of the people who had no voice. She makes me feel what I could never truly understand, especially from history books. I truly love her voice and her music,” Smith explained.

Edwards said he hopes the exhibit has visitors leaving his gallery inspired.

“My hope is for them to grasp the significance of honoring the women within our society, specifically female artists. These artists, with their professionalism and achievements, stand as true masters of their craft, reflecting a bold and innovative spirit in their work. They serve as invaluable role models for all of us to admire and emulate.”

The exhibit runs through April 6.

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