This past Tuesday, Feb. 21 the Art and Music Library hosted the opening of the “(en)GENDERED: identity, gender & art” exhibit. Now in its second year, (en)GENDERED is a juried collection of undergraduate artwork that is sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender & Women’s Studies.

“What’s really great about it is that it’s a mixed media exhibit,” curator Amy Steed said. The pieces are more than just paintings and include photography, print and even a DVD.

Don’t let the feminist overtones surrounding the exhibit’s sponsor and theme fool you – the show is not strictly art by women, for women. The pieces in the exhibit were created by both undergraduate men and women and addresses gender outside the female perspective.

“You can talk about gender in so many different ways,” jury member and professor of art and art history Joan Saab said. “It’s not over-prescribed.”

The 11 pieces in this year’s exhibit show the true diversity of the term “gender” and its relationship to identity. Sophomore Becky Cheung’s “What About the Other Girls in the Gap?” addresses problems of ethnic labels and identity faced by Asian Americans and senior Neil Aronoff’s diptych, “Suspended Progress,” uses the image of a caged bird to question society’s progress since women were granted the right to vote.

Saab and fellow jury members Margie Searl, the Chief Curator of the Memorial Art Gallery, and Director of the Susan B. Anthony Institute Sue Gustavson selected the exhibit’s 11 pieces from the 33 that were submitted.

While there was no set criteria, each of the judges kept an eye out for certain qualities while selecting the exhibition. “I was looking for pieces that were able to combine form and composition and do something really interesting that spoke to the theme,” Saab said.

“You want the work to resonate for you in some way – something that has long-term interest and appeals in a sensory way,” Searl added.

From the top 11, three artists were selected to receive a juror’s prize of $150. This year’s recipients, Cheung and seniors Rosie Adams and Keith MacLean, were announced at Tuesday’s opening reception in the gallery space of the Art and Music Library.

Following the announcement of the winners, Searl gave the opening remarks and explained how she felt each piece on display embodied the show’s theme. “In our society we’ve tended to ignore and be uncomfortable when boundaries tend to blur,” Searl said. She then expounded on how each piece managed to tear down the boarders between expectations and reality.

At first glance each work creates expectations in the viewer which are then shattered upon closer examination.

One such piece is MacLean’s DVD, “Mom’s Big Job,” which opens with a shot of a woman – his mother – sitting in front of a fire, reading a book. The scene is suddenly disrupted as the woman picks up an enormous needle and thread, thus shattering the scale and adding an element of dissonance to the otherwise peaceful scene. As she begins to sew a large piece of fabric, the atmosphere is further disrupted as a normally calming activity becomes somewhat aggressive.

(en)GENDERED will be on display until March 16, so while you’re seeking refuge from the wintry weather in the tunnels, swing by the gallery on the ground floor of Rush Rhees Library for a sampling of the artistic talents of your peers.

Swain can be reached at lswain@campustimes.org.



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