Women and gender studies work with fine arts students to produce event.
International Women’s Day celebrates women’s accomplishments while also exploring their struggles for equality. Members of the Mount Allison community explored and celebrated the contributions of women in many different ways last week. Societies from across campus held various shows, events, and activities to promote women and praise their progress in equalizing the treatment of men and women. One such event was put on by the Women and Gender Studies Society in collaboration with fine arts students which explored feminism in and through art. The event, “Feminism in Art,” combined types of art from different artists and explored both the triumphs of women in society, and the struggles and issues they still face.
Sam Thebeau is a third-year fine arts student and was the main coordinator of the event. A similar event was held last year at START gallery and garnered great success and publicity. Thebeau was inspired to reinitiate the event after hearing that it was not going to be held this year. “There was a general call for submissions from the fine arts department,” says Thebeau. “We just took whatever was available.” The art was in a range of styles and mediums, from embroidery, to oil paintings, to penciled drawings with graphite textures and photography. Each collection of art from the submitting artists had a distinct style and message to it.
Much of the art explored what it is like to be a woman in society. The work of Ruthie Payant included paintings which depicted scenes from classic fairytales but with their ideologies reversed. She created pictures of a same-sex couple, a normal Disney duo hanging out and playing video games instead of getting married, as well as a reversal of other perceptions found in classic childhood fairytales. The work of Stephanie Pringle examined domestic violence through photography by taking pictures of women with makeup bruises. Maggie Higgins pencilled pictures of female anatomy with quotes and other imagery to explore the relationship between gender and family. Another interesting piece was the work of Thebeau herself, which examined the history of women’s pubic hair and society’s view of it.
The exhibit included work that celebrated achievements by women or work that merged feminist themes with art. Rachel Thornton mixed themes from the work of highly acclaimed author Sylvia Plath with her own self portraits. Jamie Fagan, who was the show’s only male contributor, mixed drawn photos with quotes from men in Cosmopolitan (remember to italicize) magazine. Erin Burnham stitched uteruses into women’s underwear and Alyssa Proctor painted pictures of women from the first female baseball league which started during World War II.
The work of the artists came together to make a very interesting collection of art exploring feminism. “I really like how the show came together,” said Thebeau. “I hope to start earlier next year and make the show even bigger and better, hopefully generate more publicity”. “Feminism in Art” was well done and allowed for the exploration and appreciation of women through a visually stimulating medium.