Artist Inga Guzyte painted the works in “Young Sparrows,” her solo exhibition. The term “Young Sparrows” refers to daughters. Among them are Amanda Gorman, Momiji Nishiya, Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai and Millie Bobby Brown.
From performance artists to politicians, from activists to musicians, Inga Guzyte created a large series of portraits of women she admired for her first solo exhibition at Sullivan Goss-An American Gallery in 2019.
For the current exhibition on view through Dec. 27, she has focused on the idea of younger women.
The title, ”Young Sparrows,” refers to daughters. Among them are Amanda Gorman, Momiji Nishiya, Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai and Millie Bobby Brown.
Ms. Gorman, an American poet and activist, is the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate, and Ms. Nishiya is a Japanese skateboarder, who won the first ever gold medal in the women’s street competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
A Swedish environmental activist, Ms. Thunberg is known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation.
Ms. Yousafzai, often referred to as Malala, is a Pakistani activist for female education and the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and Ms. Brown, a British actress and model, was featured in the Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people in 2018 and was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, the then youngest person selected for this position.
“All of these portraits show these heroic young women among flowers and other natural forms like oak leaves, gladiolas, crocus, daffodil and tulips,” said Jeremy Tessmer, gallery director at Sullivan Goss.
“These beautiful shapes not only adorn the women, they also contain symbolic meaning in much the same way that early still life paintings often employed a rich and subtle lexicon of symbols,” she told the News-Press.
“To take one example from the current show. Malala is shown with gladiolas, which are also known as Sword Lilies. This, in turn, may relate to a rather famous quote of Malala’s: ‘There are two powers in the world; one is the sword, and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.’
“These wonderful portraits are joined by sculptures of young sparrows in a beautiful array of colors that celebrate the resilience and strength of daughters everywhere,” added Mr. Tessmer.
Ms. Guzyte has also created a portrait of an anonymous young woman that she calls “Bacha Posh-Daughter, You Will Be My Son” to draw people’s attention to the stories of the Bacha Posh of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Families in that part of the world without sons can designate one of their prepubescent daughters as a son in order to help their families with work that girls are not typically permitted to do,” said Mr. Tessmer. “Accordingly, Bacha Posh have some freedom of movement. They can dress differently. They are sometimes allowed to be educated. That they must return to being girls when they enter puberty and that some of them fight to retain freedom of movement or the right to an education inspired the artist to highlight their stories and celebrate their courage.”
Ms. Guzyte was born in Lithuania and emigrated to Gelsenkirchen, Germany, with her mother and brother when she was still young. When she turned 21, came to the United States to study English and art at Santa Barbara City College.
After finishing school, she exhibited broadly in Santa Barbara and since then has shown in San Francisco, Oakland, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Zürich, Vienna and Los Angeles.
Last year, Ms. Guzyte won first place in the “At the Edges” exhibition at the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art. She also got the Mayor’s Choice award at the L.A. Art Association’s exhibition “Floating Worlds” at the Brea Gallery last year.
Currently her work is showing at Barney’s in New York as part of a special presentation of the “Women Who Dared” Collection through the Northwell Health Group.
“These beautiful shapes not only adorn the women, they also contain symbolic meaning in much the same way that early still life paintings often employed a rich and subtle lexicon of symbols,” said Jeremy Tessmer, gallery director at Sullivan Goss.
Sandi and Bill Nicholson of Santa Barbara chose Northwell to premiere the collection because of its unique focus on women’s health and “the healing properties of art.”
“Inga’s work has also been selected for exhibition as part of the 2022 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Out of more than 2,700 entries, her sculptural portrait joins just 41 other finalists next year in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.,” said Mr. Tessmer.
The National Portrait Gallery’s triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition celebrates excellence in the art of portraiture, according to its website. It is the realization of Virginia Outwin Boochever’s gift to the Smithsonian and the nation.
“Every three years, artists living and working in the United States are invited by the museum to submit one of their recent portraits to a panel of experts. The selected artworks reflect the diverse approaches contemporary artists are using to tell the American story through portraiture,” quotes the website.