East Hampton’s Onna House opens its second season on Saturday, May 27, with “Pearls, Pills and Protests,” an exhibit inspired by the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn landmark case Roe vs. Wade, an action eliminating a woman’s choice to have an abortion as a constitutional right.
Featuring work by artists Jerelyn Hanrahan, Kelly Tapìa-Chuning, Lulu Varona (check out her Insta here) and Michele Pred, Onna House’s 2023 season opening exhibit will include paintings, drawings, needle-felt pieces, interactive pieces, quilts and sculpture. “Though every artist is unique in her approach, each work in this exhibition challenges historic symbols of feminine gentility and conservatism, repurposing those symbols as inspiration and material for expressing modern ideas,” says a press release from Onna House.
Situated on Georgica Road, the Japanese-style, midcentury modern house is owned by stylist, art enthusiast and South Fork resident Lisa Perry, who bought and renovated the house in 2021 and now displays works made by strictly female artists within it. The brainchild of Perry, the word Onna is Japanese for woman, and the house holds her permanent collection within a fully functioning living space. It’s a carefully curated combination of Perry’s loves for all things art, architecture and design.
Originally built in the ‘60s by New York power couple Ethel and Robert Scull, the building is no stranger to being a haven for strong women to gather, with the site serving as host for the Women’s Strike for Equality benefit in 1970, where guests included Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.
“There’s a real passion within the women who come to Onna House,” Perry says. “There’s been such a huge imbalance when it comes to the focus of reproductive rights for women. To present this as our season opener, we feel really great about that.”
“Pearls, Pills and Protests” features everything from large sculpture pieces depicting a strand of pearls to intricately embroided quilts meant to represent the sexual liberation movement.
As an homage to the 1950’s housewife, Hanrahan’s strand of pearls will be on view poolside at the location and are made of spun aluminum. “They’re powerful in their grace,” says Perry.
Tapìa-Chuning’s contributions to the exhibit include what Perry dubbed “super interesting” needle-felt pieces that feature transcribed truisms pertaining to what could be deemed as antiquated female social norms, reminiscent of needlepoint.
“She’s putting these sayings on felt pieces,” Perry says. “They’re very feminine in their look and technique.”
Pred’s works include her “Power of the Purse” series, which features purses decorated with phrases in neon light (like “My Body My Choice” and “Vote”) as well as a quilt titled “Sexual Revolution,” featuring patterns made up of packs of birth control pills.
Pieces from Varona are a celebration of her grandmother’s embroidery techniques, highlighting her Puerto Rican upbringing. Her work is ornamental fabric adorned with progressive phrases written in Spanish.
“Pearls, Pills and Protests” will be on view at Onna House until June 25. A new exhibit centering around ceramics will be up beginning in July.
Visits to Onna House are done by appointment only. Be sure to check out their website to learn more about the exhibition and appointment availability.