Installation view of Patricia Cronin: Shrine for Girls, New York at The FLAG Art Foundation, 2016. Photography by Genevieve Hanson, ArtEcho LLC.

Chibok Student, 2016
Watercolor on paper
41 x 30 inches
Courtesy the artist

Pushpa, 2016
Watercolor on paper
41 x 30 inches
Courtesy the artist

Magdalene Laundry Girl, 2016
Watercolor on paper
41 x 30 inches
Courtesy the artist

Shrine For Girls (Uttar Pradesh), 2015
Saris, framed photograph and wood crate
66 x 60 x 30 inches
Photo by Doug Schwab

Shrine for Girls, New York

Patricia Cronin

June 9 - July 29, 2016
Press Release PDF

The FLAG Art Foundation is pleased to present Patricia Cronin: Shrine for Girls, New York from June 9 – July 29, 2016, on FLAG’s 10th floor gallery. Originally presented as a Collateral Event for the 56th Venice Biennale, Shrine for Girls is a poetic sculptural installation and a meditation on the global plight of exploited girls and women who have been victimized, brutally silenced, and written out of history simply because of their gender. After its New York presentation, the project will travel in 2017-18 to India, Ireland, and Nigeria – the locations of the events that inspired the work.

Cronin gathered hundreds of articles of women’s and girls’ clothing from around the world to represent three specific tragedies: brightly-colored saris symbolize two Indian girls who were kidnapped, gang-raped, and lynched from a tree at the edge of their village; hijabs signify 276 Nigerian Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram in 2014 – over 200 of whom still remain missing; and gray and white aprons & uniforms symbolize those worn by “fallen women,” in forced labor at the Magdalene Asylums and Laundries in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Europe, and the U.S.

Moving from the marble alters and sacred architecture of Venice’s sixteenth-century Chiesa di San Gallo to the secular gallery context of FLAG, Cronin will present the same three fabric sculptures, here piled on top of their shipping crates to now address human trafficking as well as human rights issues. The installation of clothing, of what the missing bodies would have inhabited, provokes an emotional and visceral response to what is absent. Small photographs of each tragedy accompany the sculptures and provide very real context for the work. A new series of watercolor portraits place a human face on tragedy and amplify the “identifiable victim effect,”[1] drawing 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, a policy maker or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?  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.”

A fully illustrated catalogue for Shrine for Girls, Venice is available, including essays by Phong Bui, Ludovico Pratesi, and Maura Reilly, published by Silvana Editoriale (Milan). Shrine for Girls, Venice was curated by Ludovico Pratesi and presented by The Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects, with lead support provided by The Fuhrman Family Foundation and The FLAG Art Foundation.


Patricia Cronin (b. 1963, Beverly, MA) is an artist living and working in New York, NY. Since the early 90’s, Cronin has garnered international attention for her photographs, paintings, and sculptures that address contemporary issues of gender and sexuality. Reinvigorating traditional images and forms with social justice themes, her critically acclaimed statue, Memorial To A Marriage, 2002, a three-ton Carrara marble mortuary sculpture of Cronin and her life partner was made before gay marriage was legal in the U.S., and has been exhibited widely across the country and abroad. Recent solo exhibitions include Shrine For Girls, Venice, Chiesa di San Gallo, Solo Collateral Event of the 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (2015); Le Macchine, Gli Dei e I Fantasmi, Musei Capitolini, Centrale Montemartini Museo, Rome, Italy (2013); Dante: The Way of All Flesh, fordPROJECT, New York, NY (2012); Patricia Cronin, All Is Not Lost, Newcomb Art Gallery, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA (2012); and Patricia Cronin: Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (2009-10); among others. Cronin’s works has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including Global Positioning Systems, Perez Art Museum Miami, FL (2014-15); 1993: Experimental, Jet Set, Trash and No Star, New Museum, New York, NY (2013); Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Industry City, Brooklyn, NY (2013); Watch Your Step, The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY (2012); Because We Are, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, TX (2010); and Sh(out): Contemporary Art and Human Rights, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland (2009). Cronin is the recipient of many awards including the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, Anonymous Was A Woman Award, Civitella Ranieri Fellowship and two Pollock Krasner Foundation Grants. Cronin’s work is included in numerous museum collections including: The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Perez Art Museum Miami, Miami, FL, and Gallery of Modern Art, and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, both in Glasgow, Scotland. For more information, click here.

The Gulabi Gang is a group of Indian women activists responding to widespread domestic abuse and other violence against women in India. Recently they have gained international attention for taking matters into their own hands while the police and male-dominated society ignore and reinforce the plight of women in their country. 

Justice For Magdalenes seeks to promote and represent the interests of the Magdalene women, to respectfully promote equality and seek justice for the women formerly incarcerated in Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries and to seek the establishment and improvements of support as well as advisory and re-integration services provided for survivors. 

Camfed – Campaign for Female Education is an international non-profit organization tackling poverty and inequality by supporting girls to go to school and succeed, and empowering young women to step up as leaders of change. Camfed invests in girls and women in the poorest rural
 communities in sub-Saharan Africa, where girls face acute disadvantage, and where their empowerment is now transforming communities.

Join the conversation online and follow FLAG’s Instagram (@flagartfoundation) and Twitter (@FLAGartNYC), and use the #ShrineforGirlsNY hashtag when posting.

[1] “Identifiable victim effect” refers to the tendency of individuals to offer greater aid when a specific, identifiable person (“victim”) is observed under hardship, as compared to a large, vaguely defined group with the same need.