Virginia Lee Montgomery:
Sword in the Sphinx

Virginia Lee Montgomery:
Sword in the Sphinx

September 16 October 31, 2021

Virginia Lee Montgomery (VLM) is participating in 2021 ArtPrize with her sculpture Sword in the Sphinx, exhibited at the Welcome Center entrance. The exhibition continues in our Courtyard Level, near the Peter M. Wege Library, where four of VLM's Marble Ponytail sculptures are on display. During public Meijer Gardens hours, visit the O-A-K Theater in the Welcome Center to see two short art films by VLM, separate from the ArtPrize competition. Admission to this area is free.

ArtPrize runs Thursday, September 16–Sunday, October 3, 2021.

Exhibition continues at Meijer Gardens through Sunday, October 31.

Overview

In 2018, Virginia Lee Montgomery participated as an Emerging Artist Fellow in the Socrates Annual Exhibition at Socrates Sculpture Park in New York City, where she exhibited Sword in the Sphinx. The sculpture is based on a famous French 18th-century garden statue of a sphinx figure with a female head. VLM cast the sculpture in resin and placed a steel sword into the body.

The sculpture, seated on a 5.5-foot pedestal, is the sole ArtPrize entry at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Sword in the Sphinx will be prominently displayed near the entrance to the Welcome Center.

Also featured at Meijer Gardens, in the Courtyard Level, are three sculptures from VLM’s Marble Ponytail series. The accompanyting Ponytail Hotel video will play in the O-A-K Theater, in the Welcome Center.

Sword in the Sphinx

Virginia Lee Montgomery (VLM). Sword in the Sphinx, 2018.

Resin, steel, rust, concrete, enamel

The figure of the sphinx originated as an ancient Egyptian and Greek mythological monster. The sphinx with a female head and upper body and with lion’s legs became a popular garden statue in 18th-century Europe. Its features resembled that of Madame Pompadour, the French patron of the arts and chief mistress of King Louis XV. In Sword in the Sphinx, VLM adopts the Pompadour-style sphinx with a shocking twist: Her back is pierced with a steel sword. Known for combining surrealism and feminism, VLM asks provocative questions about the representation of female power in art, adding another layer of meaning to a mythical figure with a complex history.

Sword in the Sphinx is VLM’s official entry in the 2021 ArtPrize competition.

During public Meijer Gardens hours, visit the Welcome Center to see additional works by VLM, separate from the ArtPrize competition. Two of her short art films play in the O-A-K Theater. Four of her Marble Ponytails sculptures are displayed in the Courtyard Level. Admission to these areas is free.

Marble Ponytails

Virginia Lee Montgomery (VLM). Marble Ponytails, 2019 and 2020

The smoothly carved and polished marble ponytails in the Courtyard Level are named after ancient Greek female mythological figures, among them Aurora, Andromeda and Medusa. VLM asks us to dissociate these forms from masculine phallocentric readings, shifting perspective toward what she calls “feminist metaphysics.” VLM carved these sculptures by hand at the historic West Rutland Marble Quarry, on a fellowship through The Vermont Carving Studio and Sculpture Center.

VLM is participating in 2021 ArtPrize with her sculpture Sword in the Sphinx, exhibited at the Welcome Center entrance.

During public Meijer Gardens hours, visit the O-A-K Theater in the Welcome Center to see two short art films by VLM, separate from the ArtPrize competition. Admission to this area is free.

Events

Before the exhibition opens, Virginia Lee Montgomery will give an exclusive, members-only conversation with Jochen Wierich, Assistant Curator & Researcher.

Please note, this event has been canceled.

Instructor

Suzanne Eberle, PhD., Professor Emerita, Kendall College of Art & Design

Sponsors

Virginia Lee Montgomery: Sword in the Sphinx is made possible by:

ArtPrize

The Meijer Foundation

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Foundation

Botanic and Sculpture Societies of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts

Townsquare Media