Yvette Mayorga and Loie Hollowell Observe Their Femininity at The Aldrich

Mayorga's "Dreaming of You" and Hollowell's “Space Between, A Survey of Ten Years” are up until March 17 and August 11, respectively, at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT.

Zoe Jensen and Mar Pelaez


Yvette Mayorga, F* is for ICE 1975-2018 (After Portrait of Innocent X, c. 1650, Diego Velázquez), 2018 Acrylic piping on canvas, diptych; Each 48 x 60 x 2 inches, Courtesy of the artist, Photo: Jason Mandella

Walking into The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, you would expect traditional exhibits to match the traditional lobby. However, the featured work is anything but expected. The downstairs main exhibit by Loie Hollowell showcases sci-fi-cover-like depictions of blooming labia and extraterrestrial nipple clocks. The work upstairs presents Yvette Mayorga’s maximalist bubblegum dreamscape of cake-piped Hello Kitty vanity mirrors and pink acrylic nail-encrusted portraits. One would not expect to walk into exhibits like these because high art does not usually present saccharine girlhood and the messy AFAB body. However, the exhibits at the Aldrich Museum by Yvette Mayorga and Loie Hollowell present the aspects of the traditionally female experience without shame. They are a part of eminent culture shepherding in a celebration of hyper-feminine work.

The two exhibits explore this topic in two distinct styles. Hollowell creates surrealist yonic 3D art with extraterrestrial gradients and begging-to-be-touched textures. “Yellow Mountains,” called initially "Bouncing on the Bed", shows the reverberation of a butt hitting the bed during sex. The retrospective show explores how her body of work and literal body have transformed over a decade. Her work from before having children includes "Lick Lick," with a face embedded in rippling vulvas, and "Giving Head," showing smoke-like penises collapsing into open mouths. Her postpartum pieces feature casts of her belly and nipples, which feel as science-fiction as the gradients and colors on the canvases. The futuristic look is not by accident. Although her art seems spiritual, Hollowell doesn't identify as religious but finds spirituality in science-fiction books. Loie paints pubes, cum, breast milk, and other goos that you won't often find depicted in high art.

Loie Hollowell, Yellow Mountains, 2016, Oil, acrylic medium, sawdust, and high-density foam on linen over panel 48 x 36 x 3 inches Collection of the artist, Photo courtesy Feuer Mesler Gallery

Loie Hollowell, Lick Lick (Red & Blue & Yellow), August 2015, Soft pastel on paper, 12 x 9 inches, Collection of the artist, Photo: Melissa Goodwin, Courtesy Pace Gallery

Mayorga highlights a different part of the feminine experience that society often sees as low-brow. She shows that cake piping is a proper artistic medium, making large-scale portraits of her family using the same technique her mom used when decorating cakes at her first job in the United States. Stepping into one of the rooms, pink wallpaper envelopes you, along with patterns of Hello Kitty, toy cell phones, and other possessions you'd find in an early 2000s girl's bedroom. Mayorga pulled from classical art techniques and sculptural artists to depict themes faced by a young immigrant, like border control and cultural assimilation. She still revels in the classic symbols of femininity, youth, and Latinidad through the obstacles she depicts.

Authentic women's stories are often hard to find in arts and media. Men have historically capitalized off of femme experiences for their gain, flattening them as a result. Bimbos are stupid, and girls with glasses are smart – that makes it easier to understand women, right? Political fights against transgender people, drag queens, and abortion rights seem to stem from men in power not coming to terms with the fact that femininity can exist in many different ways and translations. Mayorga grapples with these politics through messages in her work, portraying a woman splayed out on the couch with red lipstick, large hoops, and a "Fuck ICE" shirt on, showing that feminity is political. Hollowell shows that vaginas and boobs are sexy, weird, and awe-inspiring all at the same time. These exhibits feature the body and its experiences in varied, unique forms.

It can be scary to share your femininity openly in an art world that often looks down on it. Girly songs are considered silly music; Clueless and Bring It On are not given the classic movie legacy they deserve; when people think of super feminine characters, they immediately think they're stupid. But the popularity of movies showing many aspects of the female experience (see: Bottoms, Barbie, Priscilla), ultra-feminine y2k fashion in couture, and these Aldrich exhibits prove that femininity has a place in our prominent culture. Mayorga and Hollowell do an excellent job of being a part of the greater cultural movement to celebrate femininity in its messy glory with the multi-dimensional views it deserves.

Yvette Mayorga, Sugar Castle After Rococo 18th century porcelain Diorama, 2023, Glass, charms, and acrylic piping on panel, 22.25 x 36.5 x 3.25 inches, Courtesy of the artist

Yvette Mayorga, BYE BYE BYE from the Surveillance Locket Series, 2023 Glass, collage, car wrap vinyl, charms, acrylic nails, and acrylic piping on panel, 60.5 x 62.5 x 4.25 inches, Courtesy of the artist

Yvette Mayorga, Scorpion After Ouvrier en Porcelaine, 2023 , Collage, mirror, scorpion belt buckle, toy hammers, and acrylic piping on panel, 83.5 x 42.5 x 3.5 inches, Courtesy of the artist