Wendy S. Rolfe and Thérèse Mulgrew share an intimate bond as mother and daughter and a professional relationship as artists committed to their studio practice. They are part of an extended artistic family whose influence spans generations and is part of the fabric of Dubuque’s history. For the first time, Wendy and Therese’s multidimensional relationship and unique styles are explored together in this exhibition of 26 new oil paintings.
Intimate Exchange explores each artists’ profound observation of human relationships particularly their own mother/daughter connection as well as the other significant female influences in their lives. Their paintings tell stories through the people closest to them, personal objects, and historical references. In examining their works together, unique parallels emerge from their strong, independent styles.
Those distinct styles immediately greet visitors to the gallery in two portraits that the artists made of each other. Thérèse features her mother in bold reds and teals. Her figure fills the canvas and is draped in flowing curves of hair and an oversized shirt. Wendy is holding a small photograph of her mother close to her heart. In Wendy’s portrait of Thérèse, her daughter is shown simultaneously as an adult and a child. Her adult form melds into a red velvet chair with her younger self at her knee. The two forms are joined by symbolic imagery, particularly the flamingo, which appears frequently in Wendy’s works. These two portraits set the stage for the intimacy, complexity, and independence that characterize the artists and their work throughout the exhibition.
Image credit: Wendy S. Rolfe, Safe Keeping, 2022, oil on panel, courtesy of the artist.