Kelly Girl

Sept 8 - Nov 4, 2017
VAN HORN, Düsseldorf

Kelly Girl examines the historical trajectory of women athletes in professional auto racing. The exhibition will comprise three new Portrait paintings, a selection of tondos and two wall-mounted sculptures.

White's Portraits combine inkjet prints, airbrushed acrylic, and custom corner sculptures. They feature three female drivers in the prime of their careers: the American Janet Guthrie, who was trained as an astrophysicist and was the first woman to qualify and complete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500; Divina Galica, who was an Olympic skier for Great Britain before becoming a Formula One racer; and Lella Lombardi, born in Italy, who was the only female Formula One driver with a top-six finish in a World Championship race.

Resistance from male racers and male-dominated sponsors made securing adequate funding nearly impossible for women, who were thus forced to leave the sport for financial reasons rather than lack of talent. This exhibition celebrates their achievement and casts a light on the gender barrier that continues to hold women back in racing and other arenas.

Kelly Services was as an American post-war temporary staffing service. The term “Kelly Girl” (and later, “Gal Friday”), became household terms to describe women workers who typically provided typing services to male-run businesses. As well as providing secretarial support, Kelly Girl became a primary sponsor for racers such as Guthrie, proving that Kelly Girls weren’t merely there to assist with the filing. The spirit of independence and determination defined by racers like Guthrie, Galica and Lombardi inspires this show.