See Woman’s Art Journal, Fall/Winter 2011 issue, “Juanita Mcneely, Art and Life Entwined,” a biographical account by Sharyn Finnegan. I paint woman as an active agent from the viewpoint of what a woman faces in life. In my work I speak of those moments of emotions or experiences that are either not spoken of, or that most do not want to face: the tremble of life and moments of unpleasant realties. The following early reviews captured what my work is about.
Carter Ratcliff, Art News Magazine, February 1971, “McNeely shows garish, intense and frightening paintings in an Expressionist mode. Even the simplest domestic scene colors itself—-literally, almost—-with difficult, often painful emotion. Sometimes a series of paintings is joined in a single work. In the largest of these, themes of birth and death, sex and pain, are followed across nine canvases, melting and distorting shapes, conjuring up mythical and ritual objects from bedroom and delivery room procedure. At its climax this drama of metamorphosis seems to tattoo bodies with fragments of other bodies, as if terror were felt as a very specific personage.”
Maryse Holder, V. Allicata, Club International Magazine, March 1974, London, England, “An important art movement in the U.S. is reflected in the works executed by several talented women artists who are taking an entirely different view of the total aspect of human sexuality—the content of these women’s message is unprecedented and explicitly sexual. It shows an area of human experience that has never been dealt with before-and never by men…McNeely, all of whose work speaks of the unfathomable depths of female experience, restores to the trivialized woman that sense of herself as cosmic protagonist, an Everywoman deep with primal experiences.”
April Kingsley, The Soho Weekly News, February 1976, “The Interiorized images are both a response to and the starkest expression of women’s burgeoning consciousness of their sexuality. The visions that haunt McNeely exaggerate the fears hidden somewhere inside most women whether they are able to acknowledge them or not. Her bleeding women bleed for every woman’s physical vulnerability, embodying all of our sexual functions and their possibly devastating consequences.”
Lawrence Alloway, The Nation, April 22, 1978, “Juanita McNeely pursues an iconography in which she expresses the autonomy of fear and pain in creatures caught in extreme situations. She paints the human body like a stranded starfish dying in the sun.”
Feminist Artist Statement
My mother and father taught me that I was the equal of any man or woman. In the past, women have had to unite to struggle for their RIGHT to inherit wealth or property, to vote, to use our own names, and to be given credit for our own thoughts and statements in art, writing science and literature. Today, we still have to struggle to keep control over our own bodies and our destiny. OH! YES! I’m a feminist. We have to understand that there is no difference between race, sex, caste or ability, or we will not achieve peace. Women have had, and will need, all their strength to continue the struggle—so much has to be done. A young woman, a 15 year old Pakistani, MALALA YOUSAFZAL, almost lost her life, for the right to be educated. We as women must continue the struggle to hold on to our rights, or let the children lead the way.
Woman trying to be free.
Four panels of a nine panel painting (panels 2,3,4,5) about the reality of the time before abortion was legalized and the medical experiences of women
463 West St.
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