Shona McAndrew’s “Wednesday Night” exhibit is a celebration of the mundanity of life, finding something spectacular in the everyday.
“Wednesday Night” portrays images and sculptures from what could be a woman’s average Wednesday night, and is available to be virtually toured through the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts (AEIVA) website.
“Shona is known for paintings and sculptures that depict women in their personal spaces, drawing from a variety of historical and personal references,” says Tina Ruggieri, AEIVA Assistant Curator. Ruggieri says that McAndrew “renders fleeting yet intimate moments of vulnerability in the daily lives of women seldom portrayed in art history.”
The “Wednesday Night” exhibit consists of five larger-than-life sculptures and three paintings that depict women with realistic body types doing nightly tasks such as waxing their legs and brushing their teeth.
In AEIVA’s “Inside the Arts” Interview with McAndrew, McAndrew says that she enjoys the name “Wednesday Night” “because it is both incredibly specific and it means absolutely nothing.” She explains that most things happen to us at random times when nothing special is happening, and so those are some of the truest moments in the human experience.
McAndrew says that “Wednesday Night” allowed her to begin to see the beauty of women being together.
“Seeing all these women in one space made me think of roommates living in a house together or other shared spaces that women have, and what does it mean for a woman to allow another woman into her space.”
McAndrew says that even though men have painted women for centuries, it is still important for her to create the art that she does.
“Why am I painting women? I think I was able to answer that question by painting myself. At that point, I was slowly admitting that I was perhaps a bigger woman, and it meant a lot for me to see myself represented,” McAndrew said.
While McAndrew sees herself represented in her own work, she says that other women also say that they can see themselves in her sculptures.
“I was so interested in making people confront these bodies, and that probably has a lot to do with how I was confronting my own body,” McAndrew says.
One of the sculptures that makes up the “Wednesday Night” exhibit is “Sofia.” “Sofia” depicts a plus-size woman sitting on the floor, concentrating on waxing her legs. McAndrew puts great detail in showing the wax on the strip itself, emphasizing the woman’s leg hair and her red, freshly waxed legs.
“I really grew up thinking that I was the only woman with leg hair. Anything that happened to my body I assumed I was the only person who was struggling the way I did.”
McAndrew’s art is realistic and specific, allowing a variety of women to see that they are not the only ones with leg hair or moles or big bellies.
McAndrew’s “Louise” sculpture shows a woman standing against a wall with her hands resting on her belly and her eyes closed, appearing at peace with herself and the world.
McAndrew’s art shines a spotlight on the plus-size woman, making her seen and heard. Her sculptures exude pride in their own forms, and it is important for women to see themselves represented in a way that displays their figures in such a proud way.
“As a plus-size woman, I always felt like the invisible elephant in the room,” explains McAndrew. “I was both so big and impossible to ignore, but I felt invisible and didn’t want to be seen.”
Another sculpture in the “Wednesday Night” exhibit is “Me and Stu (Brushing Teeth).” This sculpture displays McAndrew and her boyfriend casually embracing in their underwear while brushing their teeth. McAndrew shows us an everyday moment of intimacy between a plus-sized woman and a thinner man with the hopes of people growing used to this image.
McAndrew talks about her past insecurities with dating a man who is thinner than she is, and how plus-size women being in relationships with fit young men is something not often shown in today’s society.
“There’s so many young women like me who just need to see what it looks like to see our bodies together, and I think that’s why I did this sculpture.”
McAndrew takes care in putting detail into her sculptures. Next to her “Louise” sculpture, McAndrew has sculpted a full-size blue dresser with various items sitting on top. These items include a toothbrush, tampons, a bottle of Tylenol and a book. These details bring the sculptures to life.
McAndrew says she invents everything else that would be around the person.
“Be very honest, and understand that it’s not just the bodies, but it’s everything happening around it that led to that moment.”
You can view the McAndrew’s full “Wednesday Night” exhibit through UAB’s AEIVA website, as well as watch her full “Inside the Arts” interview.