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Brodalisque: A look into traditional odalisque paintings

Klaire A. Lockheart, who recently earned her MFA in painting at USD, displayed an exhibit in Gallery 110 at the Fine Arts Building. The exhibit was titled ‘Brodalisque,’ a term Lockheart coined herself, and focused on lounging male figures.

“A Brodalisque is the character in these paintings and it’s a combination of a bro and then an odalisque, which comes from the French term odelek, meaning chambermaid,” Lockheart said.

Lockheart enjoys tackling social themes in her work and oftentimes will take a satirical approach in doing so. She is also a known feminist and pushes the boundaries involving gender inequality.

“For me, there’s a distinction between art and decoration. Art has a meaning. The artist is communicating something and having that distinction between something that’s decorative and something that has meaning, is really important to me,” Lockheart said.

Along with creating art, Lockheart also teaches Art History at Morningside University in Sioux City. 

Lockheart uses the traditional oil painting method to portray her subjects. This method is the same as was used in realistic oil paintings 200 years ago. Lockheart said she chose this technique because it goes perfectly with her subject matter, but also because women weren’t often recognized as artists during the Renaissance, when this form of painting was most popular.

“It’s just this great combination for me in that I want to make sure women are represented in museums as artists,” Lockheart said.

In addition to using a traditional medium in her art, Lockheart also attacks the concept of the male gaze in her works. She works to highlight how ridiculous the concept is in a humorous way.

“This particular series has come out of years of research and seeing artwork and then finally being able to articulate that irritation you get when you go into a museum as a woman, you’re like, ‘Why are all the women lying down and naked?,’” Lockheart said.

Lockheart received funding for this series through the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. This Foundation is awarded to young artists, under the age of 40, to produce works and then showcase them at the end of the allotted time.

“I doubled the amount of paintings last year because of that funding. It’s a really fantastic grant that I like telling young artists to look into after you graduate,” Lockheart said.

The closing reception for Lockhart’s ‘Brodalisque’ Exhibition was on March 25. She also showed some works in the Alumni Art Exhibition at the John A. Day Gallery.