Rachel Fein-Smolinski: This woman has ISSUES!


Rachel Fein-Smolinski: This Woman Has ISSUES! is the third and final part of a series of exhibitions at BICA dedicated to remaking institutions into utilities that serve the public. An autopic look at the intergenerational intersections of family, healthcare, and arts communities, This Woman Has ISSUES! will take the form of an exhibition, publicly accessible archive, and a series of intimate discussions.

Fein-Smolinski’s work injects science-fictional visual strategies into the authoritative aesthetics of biology and medicine to address issues of courage, pain, neuroses, and the power dynamics embedded in the Western healthcare system. Using photography, video, and installation This Woman Has ISSUES! incorporates imagery constructed from the familial, studio, and medical archive of the late Buffalo figurative painter–and the artist’s grandmother–Jackie Felix, alongside publicly accessible archival material from medical institutions across Western New York.

Of her grandmother Fein-Smolinski says, “Jackie (Gom, what I called her) avidly consumed, deconstructed and reconstructed narratives formulated across cinema, literature, television, news, etc. She was both physically and mentally ill for the duration of her prolific career as an artist. [...] The role of the art world for Jackie, while not curative, was healing. Anyone who knew her knew that she had no reverence for a God, but she worshipped at the altars of aesthetics and meaning.”

The title of the exhibition is taken from a message on a postcard sent by a friend to Felix from one of multimedia artist Ida Applebroog’s shows and reflects the serpentine intertwinings of art, gender, and trauma. Fein-Smolinski’s work, juxtaposed with her grandmother’s studio notes, medical records, books, newspaper clippings, emails, tools, and toys turn biomedical, personal, and postmodern art history into a fantasy laboratory where these parallel histories co-mingle.

Alongside the exhibition, Fein-Smolinski will present a publicly accessible archive of Felix’s studio materials

Rachel Fein-Smolinski is an artist and educator who was raised in Buffalo, NY and holds a B.F.A. in Studio Art from the San Francisco Art Institute and an M.F.A. in Art Photography from Syracuse University. Fein-Smolinski has exhibited internationally and is the recipient of numerous awards, residencies, and publications, including, most recently, the 2019 Visual Studies Workshop residency, Duke University's Archive of Documentary Arts and History of Medicine's Research grant, the 2018 Wynn Newhouse Award for Artists of Excellence with Disabilities, and the Silver Eye Center for Photography’s Fellowship 19 International Award Honorable Mention. Her most recent video, Referred Pain, was shown in the Video in America exhibition at The Everson Museum in Syracuse, NY and at SPACES in Cleveland, OH. Fein-Smolinski is currently a Photography Lecturer in The School of Art + Design at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Program is funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; administered by Arts Services Initiative of Western New York. Further support is provided by Give for Greatness.