November 29, 2011
Kim Russo: FAMILY / Cornell Fine Arts Museum / October 22 - January 17, 2012
Kim Russo's most recent body of work, FAMILY, questions the stigma against nontraditional families. The drawings are the culmination of a process that includes spending time with gay and lesbian parents in their own homes. As a spectator who witnesses but doesn't contribute, she documents their private lives through photography and captures a certain level of intimacy not always made public. Although the drawings edit and ultimately limit the experience, they maintain a voyeur-like quality that, coupled with the directness of the large-scale and unframed paper, encourages personal interaction. The banality of the scenes forces the viewer to question its familiarity. Women washing dishes and people sitting down at a dinner table are hardly out of the ordinary. In fact, these environments don't differ at all from the standard American household. In this way, the drawings quietly rebel against those who would refuse marriage or adoption to a homosexual couple or reject it as abnormal. The near indistinguishability of the scenes prove that families with gay or lesbian parents are capable of providing an environment that is essentially the same, effectively voiding the argument that homosexual parents provide less stable conditions for raising children than heterosexual ones. With the exception of some remotely menacing objects which add an ominous undertone- an inflatable shark and a cop car parked seen through a window, there is nothing to which any parent could justifiably object to. In this graceful and indirect way, the drawings demand the viewer to reevaluate unsubstantiated assumptions about nontraditional families and redefine their ideas about the contemporary family.
Review of show by Kim Russo student, Tracey Keenan