Christine Stoddard (BA ’12) has spent her artistic career exploring identity and personal experience through storytelling and fantastical imagery. That approach was on display at her first New York multimedia solo show, “Lady Pandora,” at FiveMyles Gallery in Brooklyn on Feb. 2.
“Lady Pandora” features a looping video installation with 63 different shorts—containing more than two hours of footage—and photo collages framed on the gallery walls. In her films and photos, Stoddard conflates signifiers of heritage, gender and nostalgia with striking masks, bird cages and symbols of human mortality.
The show, she says, helped her grapple with dualities in her own life as a Latina and Anglo-American woman.
“With ‘Lady Pandora’ I became more comfortable with my identity as a mixed-race woman,” says Stoddard. “In New York, and even at VCU—which is very diverse—I can firmly say that I am both: I am half-white, I am half-brown. At the end of the day it shouldn’t matter because I’m human.”
Stoddard’s installation is also a reflection of her experiences at VCUarts.
Stoddard, who majored in both Cinema and English, began exploring the intersection of the two fields in 2009 when she founded Quail Bell Magazine, an online arts and literature publication. Stoddard got the idea for the publication after taking a book arts course for both arts and English majors, and further developed the idea while studying abroad at a Glasgow artist and writers workshop in 2010. She spent the next two years building Quail Bell with submissions from VCU friends and classmates and their contacts around the world.
Stoddard also published two issues of Comicality, a print comics magazine featuring Virginia artists and writers, with her now-husband, Kinetic Imaging major David Fuchs (BFA ’11). The pair received a $10,000 grant from the Student Media Center and Student Media Commission to found the publication in 2010. They also won an Undergraduate Research Grant to produce a documentary on Edgar Allan Poe.
“What I loved about VCU,” says Stoddard, “is that the possibilities are almost endless. You can double major in all kinds of crazy things. You can work on a literary magazine. You can get an internship at any number of companies in the city.”
While Stoddard now lives in New York, her work is still influenced by her artistic roots in Richmond. Ten writers and multidisciplinary artists—including Stoddard and VCU alumni Mari Pack and Kaylin Kaupish—presented live readings at the opening for “Lady Pandora.” All were past contributors to Quail Bell, and four collaborated with Stoddard as models and writers for the installation’s videos.
Following “Lady Pandora,” she’ll host a screening of poetry films titled Noche Poetica in Brooklyn this April. She’s also pursuing her MFA in Digital and Interdisciplinary Art at the City College of New York. Her newest e-chapbook The Silhouette Woman is now out from Moonchaps.