Featured Artist: Odeta Xheka
Working across painting, collage, and digital media, Odeta Xheka’s story parallels the highs and lows that countless women artists face as they negotiate the demands of daily pressures of the family with the aspiration to make ambitious art that is both sensitive & cerebral within an existing culture that likes things to be simple and pigeonholed. As a woman, fated to be narrated rather than be the narrator, she makes art to claim her voice because art is the opposite of speechlessness. Her artwork has been shown extensively, most recently at Abington Art Center, Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, Maryland Federation of Art, Praxis Photo Art Center, and WoArt while her creative nonfiction and art criticism has been published by Memoir Magazine, Kolaj Magazine, Muther Magazine, NewFeather Anthology, and Literary Mama among other online and in-print publications. She is shortlisted for Mother United Art Prize 2022 and her artwork is also featured in Art Seen Magazine, Kolaj Magazine, and Thought Art Magazine. Born in Berat, Albania, currently she lives in Tampa, Florida after four years spent studying art in Athens, Greece and many more in Brooklyn, New York.
Our bodies contain stories, songs and wounds that come alive with every breath. To make the body the sole focus of a creative act bent on writing the stories, singing the songs and soothing the wounds all at once is a (radical) act that requires unflinching bravery in rejecting bland assent, shame, and internal prejudices. It especially requires an audience willing to embrace more that what is normally acceptable. In this sense, I want the viewer to walk away feeling that can never be a static perspective of the body: the shame of its namelessness or its absolute wonder, the nakedness of the skin or the vested interests of the status quo, the body’s needs or its bruising, the warfare against and within itself. The source material for these mixed media pieces is a mixture of pre-cut figurative shapes, lace, sand, and re-appropriations of my own work allowing for the employment of past patters and marks to represent the fact that one can, and must, break from old beliefs and outdated mindset in order to dissemble constructs of the past in an effort to build a future that accommodates shifting ideologies around what it means to inhabit a body.