Artist Blythe King Aims to Lift Up the Female Form & Identity in Her Latest Exhibit at Quirk Gallery

by | Mar 29, 2018 | COMMUNITY

When you hear the word collage, most likely images are brought up of newspaper clippings, old Elmer’s Glue, and a ton of glitter that will never leave you. Emerging Richmond mixed-media artist Blythe King instead is taking collage work and photography to a new level by incorporating such elements as gold leaf, circle motifs, and pages from catalogs from the 40s, 70s, and 80s.

In her newest exhibit Two Sides of the Same Coin, which recently opened at Quirk Gallery, King uses her unique collage style to not only examine the female form, but also to lift it up and praise it. Taking a cue from her influence Andy Warhol, the Pittsburgh native pulls commercial images of women from old Montgomery Ward catalogs of the 40s, 70s, 80s and brings them to life with elements of Eastern iconography.  Feeling inspired by the unique level of empowerment felt from these images, she raises them to their goddess level by enshrining them in beautiful gold leaf.

Collage by Blythe King

Flipping through a 1940s catalog one day was what sparked the idea for these collages for this avid collector.

“I spend a lot of time looking through images, and I have a huge collection of catalogs,” King said.  “I found this catalog in my neighborhood, I brought it home, and I was just fascinated by it. It was the first time that I had seen women depicted [with this] dignity and strength to their poses that I hadn’t seen before in advertising. So I kind of felt like I uncovered this little blip of time and it felt like I needed to show people these images, they need to be seen again.”

King is also originally drawn to collage work because of its inherent double meaning, the familiarity, and the accessibility. She uses the foundation of these recognizable, commercial images to lure in audiences. Much like the multiple layers of the collage work are complex, as is the multiple layers of the women in question that she chooses to focus on.

Collage by Blythe King, Richmond, Virginia

While it is hard to deny that King’s work is of course visually and aesthetically striking, it is also out with a not so undercover mission. As society enters deeper into a stronger, more unified and intersectional renaissance of feminism, King uses her art to support the cause and unify all women in today’s stormy climates.

“I feel like I have a mission. My work is especially urgent right now. It’s finally a point in history where we are no longer tolerating violence against women. Women’s voices are being heard,” King said. “I feel that it’s even more important that I continue this work and make this work, and allow people to see it.”

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling

King, who studied religion and art at the University of Richmond, has exhibited in South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, and DC. Prior to delving into collage work, the mixed media artist produced tablet covers from vintage women’s shirts for her Louisiana-based online textile startup, iSockits. However, as some things naturally do, when the business found its end almost like clockwork, she ran across the first catalog that would inspire her series.

“I didn’t have a focus then. It was something that I did. That business, I did everything so it was pretty all consuming. The business sort of ran its course and it was about that time that I found that catalog in my neighborhood in Church Hill, and it got me thinking.”

While lifting women’s voices up is her aim, King admits that it may not be initially obvious when audiences first see her work. Because the medium is not always so obvious, she admits that sometimes the perception is different depending on what medium audiences think it is. However, she does have a large hope of what audiences will take away from her art.

No automatic alt text available.

“My biggest goal through my art is that it affects our culture, that it actually changes the way people see, so that actually has an effect on a larger scale. I feel like if you would understand that all women are gods that that will change the status of women in our culture. And you can do it through just one person at a time,” King said.

In addition to the Two Sides of the Same Coin exhibit, King is also working on a book about her artwork, which she hopes to have ready by the summer. The book will feature all of the pieces showcased in the then exhibition, which you can check out at Quirk Gallery through May 6.




Ash Griffith

Ash Griffith

Ash is a writer and improviser from Richmond. She has a BA in English from VCU and an associates in Theater. When she isn't writing or screaming on a stage, she can usually be found wherever the coffee is. Bill Murray is her favorite person along with her black cat, Bruce.

more in community

RVA 5×5 | Substantial Doubt of Competency, More Meals Tax Issues

While the Mayor and friends were busy celebrating the AAA bond rating upgrade atop City Hall, inside the lower levels the city continues to fall apart. Most notably, the meals tax fiasco that we were told was being handled and improved is showing more and different...

‘VASK8R’ | Starting Over at the Local Roller Rink

The rules are simple: don't get in anyone’s way and try to look good while doing it. The warehouse off Williamsburg Blvd mimics many of the same buildings near the Richmond International Airport. But on Wednesday night, when many of the local businesses have locked...

Join the Mission: Becoming a Foster Parent in Richmond

Last month was Foster Care Awareness Month, so we reached out to Alexa Reitz, the Program Director of the Richmond Regional Center at UMFS (United Methodist Family Services) to get some insight into how this all works. The conversation shed light on the critical role...

Lewis Ginter’s New Vibe: Kyle Epps’ Artistry in Full Bloom

It’s been long-known that the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is Richmond’s horticultural Eden. You might even know Lewis Ginter was a notoriously generous philanthropist who established the eponymous park and The Jefferson Hotel. But if you go to the park this Summer,...

Wave That Flag! Richmond’s Pride 2024 Events Are Here to Slay

We are a little late on this but Virginia Pride has unveiled the schedule for its annual "Endless Summer of Pride" campaign, a celebration of the Richmond region's LGBTQ community. The campaign kicked off on May 31 with a pride flag-raising ceremony at City Hall,...

Can You Dig It? Richmond’s ‘Game of Shrooms’ is On!

This Saturday, June 8, you’re in for a quirky twist on your morning jaunt around Richmond. Prepare to encounter some wildly creative, fungus-fueled art installations as the 'Game of Shrooms' returns to sprinkle its spores around the globe—and right here in River City....

RVA 5X5: It Was The Dime Bridge Before It Cost A Nickel

The post last week on the history (and future) of the Mayo Bridge was a big hit; so this week we will look at the Boulevard Bridge (aka the Nickel Bridge) after reading an article in the Times-Dispatch that was followed by a photo collage of old photos from the...