Molly Jae Vaughan: After Boucher

(Portland, OR) Fuller Rosen Gallery is excited to present After Boucher, a solo exhibition of new and recent work by Molly Jae Vaughan on view September 11 – October 24, 2021. After Boucher features paintings, drawings and lithographs based on the works of 18th century French painter, draftsman and printmaker François Boucher. The Rococo master’s portfolio takes on new meaning through the re-translations by Vaughan, a Seattle-based artist and educator originally from the United Kingdom. The technical achievements witnessed in the original works of Boucher — composition, perspective, line, form and color — are not only immaculately replicated by Vaughan, but transmogrified into stunning visions of queer resplendence. Baroque figures, furniture and environments are infused with transgender bodies, process color palettes and mythological characters. A hand painted, pink Rococo dress depicting scenes and figures inspired by the works of Boucher will take center stage as the sculptural belle of the ball. After Boucher will run through October 24, 2021.

Join us for an in-person opening reception on Saturday September 11, 2021 from 5-8 pm.

After Boucher features a selection of the more than 60 works Vaughan has completed based on the book The Drawings of François Boucher by Alastair Laing. In the first major solo show of this body of work, Vaughn re-introduces viewers to the excessively opulent world of 18th century Europe where aristocratic gender constructs operated in a fluid array of warm pastels and powdered wigs. Beginning the project in 2017 as a graduate student at the University of Southern Florida with the narratives of minotaurs and harpies, Vaughan’s desire to articulate her gender identity became central to her art making process. The art and fashions of the Rococo period, with their emphasis on youth and femininity, served as a starting point for Vaughan’s investigations into Western gender constructs.

From Boucher, Vaughan learned that the imagination offers a powerful vehicle through which the body can be explored, in particular through drawing. The narrative of the anamorphic transgender bodies in Vaughan’s work speaks to her personal struggles with her body; a body she had no words to describe other than “monster” for most of her life. The exclusion and erasure of transgender people in Western art history prompted Vaughan to re-insert herself and her body into classical allegories and historical portraits; clueing viewers into the fact that transgender people have always existed and deserve representation. Vaughan’s re-imagining of Young Country Girl Dancing depicts a hybridized swan taking the place of Boucher’s original model with the light red chalk accents on her dress and ribbons keyed up to a more vibrant hue of pearlescent pink. With subtle but notable augmentations, additions, transformations and alterations, Vaughan subverts the classist and predatory values of the Baroque era with her own cast of heroic, queer protagonists.

Another recurring character seen throughout the series, as either a portrait figure or decorative element, is the minotaur. Vaughan’s minotaur is an empathetic and contemplative one; far removed from the bias and prejudice of the ancient Athenian myth. In Design for a Funerary Monument, Vaughan replaces a stately Roman-style profile with the gently tilted head of the minotaur. A memorial for traditional masculine and feminine gender roles, laying to rest the binary and embracing the spectrum in which gender exists in the contemporary world.

In the middle of the gallery a pink Rococo dress is adorned with hand painted motifs found throughout the After Boucher series. A reclining nude, a triumphant minotaur, and flowery ruffles adorn the dress along with Vaughan’s distinctive linework and bold color palette. The dress embodies the kind of cultivated beauty, ornamentation, and splendor that reigned supreme in an era patronized by French court notable Madame de Pompadour; the official mistress to King Louis XV and royal patron of Boucher. The work in After Boucher offers an exuberance of creative fantasy and queer reclamaition mined from the Venus grottos and grand palaces of bygone Baroque royalty. Art history, gender dynamics, and patron-artist hierarchies are given a fresh infusion of jubilation and critique.

Molly Jae Vaughan (b. 1977 London, UK, she/her — formerly known as Jono Vaughan) holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York, NY and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions, including the exhibitions MOTHA and Chris E. Vargas Present: Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington and We the People at the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and her exhibition Jono Vaughan: Project 42 was exhibited at Seattle Art Museum in 2018.

Vaughan was the recipient of the Betty Bowen Award in 2017, and has received grants from Art Matters Foundation, Visual Artists Network, the Pollination Project, and the Hillsborough Arts Council. Her work has been featured in The Advocate, Surface Design Journal, City Arts Journal, Tampa Bay Times, and her work will be featured in the upcoming publication of New American Paintings Volume 151 for Winter 2021. In November of 2018, Vaughan presented a talk at TEDXSEATTLE that focused on how she uses her work to create memorialization actions and garments for transgender murder victims.

Vaughan’s upcoming shows include solo exhibitions and projects at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, King Street Station, and the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, along with group exhibitions A Site of Struggle at the Block Museum of Fine Art at Northwestern University then traveling to Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, and Queer Threads at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. Molly is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at Bellevue College in Bellevue, Washington.

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