Dublin City Arts Office
The LAB, Foley Street, Dublin 1

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Past Exhibition

Shrine for girls, Dublin

Patricia Cronin

June 16 - August 20 2017

The LAB Gallery is pleased to present, Shrine For Girls, Dublin, the first solo exhibition in Ireland of New York artist Patricia Croinin. One of the critically acclaimed highlights of the 2015 Venice Biennale, this site-specific installation is a meditation on the global plight of exploited girls and women. 

Moving from the sacred altars and architecture of Venice’s sixteenth-century Chiesa di San Gallo to the secular urban gallery context of The LAB, in the heart of Joyce's Nighttown and built in the shadow of the last Magdalene Laundry to close in Ireland in 1996, Cronin gathers hundreds of articles of women’s and girls’ clothing from around the world to represent three specific tragedies. Brightly-colored saris symbolize two Indian cousins who were gang-raped and lynched in 2014; somber hijabs signify 276 Nigerian Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram in 2014 (109 of which are still missing); and pale aprons symbolize those worn by “fallen women” in forced labour at the Magdalene Asylums and Laundries in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States to act as relics of these young martyrs.

Shrines, part of every major religion’s practice, provide a space for contemplation, petition and rituals of remembrance. In this exhibition, Cronin presents the three original fabric sculptures, here piled on top of their shipping crates to also address human trafficking and act as a metaphor of who or what is valued in our culture. Returning to the neighbourhood where the weight of history inevitably overlays the interpretation of the contemporary, in the historic Monto, Cronin reminds us that we are all complicit in allowing violent abuses of women’s rights to become invisible in our society. The histories of the Magdalene Laundries are only starting to be heard.

Small photographs of each tragedy accompany the sculpture and a new series of oil portrait paintings, exhibitied for the first time, place a human face on tragedy and draw our attention away from statistics to the magnitude of the individual loss and unrealized human potential.

Cronin asks: “What is the role of contemporary art in our 24-hour news cycle society? What can an artist do if they are not a politician, an NGO nor a philanthropist? Hopefully the artist looks out, keenly observes the world, reflects, and responds in a way that shakes us out of our numbness. We cannot be silent.”


Patricia Cronin’s work examines issues of gender, sexuality and social justice and has been exhibited widely in the U.S. and internationally. Shrine For Girls, Venice, curated by Ludovico Pratesi, premiered as a solo Collateral Event of the 56th Venice Biennale then traveled to The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY. Other solo exhibitions were presented at the Capitoline Museum’s Centrale Montemartini Museum, and the American Academy in Rome Art Gallery, both in Rome, Italy; Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY and her acclaimed sculpture “Memorial To A Marriage” is permanently installed in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY. Cronin is the recipient of numerous awards including: the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants and a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship. Her works are in numerous museum collections, including the National Gallery of Art and Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, both in Washington, DC, Perez Art Museum Miami, FL and Gallery of Modern Art and Kelvingrove Museum, both in Glasgow, Scotland. She is the author of Harriet Hosmer: Lost and Found, A Catalogue Raisonné and The Zenobia Scandal: A Meditation on Male Jealousy and is Professor of Art at Brooklyn College of The City University of New York.

The LAB Gallery is a platform for Irish arts practice, showcasing emerging artists, encouraging risk taking and collaboration while developing innovative learning and research programmes. The LAB and the LAB Gallery are programmes of the City Arts Office a section of Dublin City Council providing a citywide service developing the Arts in Dublin through partnership and collaboration. In addition to Dublin City Council, the LAB Gallery is supported by the Arts Council.

The exhibition is accompanied by a new text by Dr. Tina Kinsella.

Generous additional support came from the Arcadia Foundation, the Tow Faculty Travel Fellowship from The Tow Foundation and the Dean’s Office of the School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts at Brooklyn College of The City University of New York.


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