Photos of artwork showcased. Artist include: Sophia Gallo, Emily Bryn Lawson, Nancy Blecher and Hadiya Afzel. Photos by Darlene Leal and Kennedy Williams
Not too soon after National Women’s History Month, RU threw an art showcase in Ida B. Wells Lounge. Vibrant pieces of art were displayed sparingly on the walls. Quilts of various tones and sizes hung at the front and center. The quilts were accompanied by art pieces displaying positive messages of equality and poems expressing female-bodied struggles.
Sophia Gallo, freshman sociology major, helped design the event for her gender justice final. The final was meant to create an event that would benefit women and those who are non-binary, trans, disabled, Black, Latinx, Asian and part of the LGBTQ+.
A showcase of art has been used before to display intersections. “Anatomy of Autonomy” used a variety of mediums to explore intersectionality and it confronts those identities by letting the artists address the ways they’ve been systematically oppressed.
The showcase tied into Arsty’s online gallery, “Intersectionality.”
“Artist who take intersectionality as their focus are interested in the way that different types of discrimination– such as racism, classism, xenophobia, misogyny, or ageism– can converge and impact individuals and groups, and their work explores these complex interactions,” the website wrote.
“Anatomy of Autonomy” artists use their showcase to help destigmatize identities while creating a space where they can find empowerment, just as RU’s art showcase was aimed to display not only women’s art but that of LGBTQ+, nonbinary, trans, disabled, Black, Latinx and Asian backgrounds.
Gallo and her groups’ main focus was to give exposure to women by promoting their art since they aren’t all that represented in art museums. It was also meant to encourage women to create more art and let them know they are capable of making valuable art.
Gallo said she was pulled to her group’s idea because they were not only focused on intersectionality but also decided to take a different approach, the art showcase. “I think art is an incredibly powerful tool for expression and I think that women have a lot of things to say that deserves to be heard,” said Gallo.
Gallo continued by saying that she believes it’s important to create spaces for women because male spaces are much more predominate. “I think art can also be seen as an elitist thing, sort of something only privileged people can do. That’s definitely accurate to a certain extent, but I wanted to make a place where that didn’t have to be true and where anyone could share their ideas and creations,” said Gallo.
She also included some of her own art into the showcase. Gallo described her art by being inspired by her own feelings and from being a kid, she reflected on just being able to draw and not being judged for her artwork. For this particular showcase, her artwork was inspired by women’s influence in her life.
“I do really like to draw women. I see women in art museums and stuff but it’s always like thin white women and they’re naked. It’s weird. It’s nice to focus on other things about women,” said Gallo.
Nancy Bleacher, a retired English teacher, attended the event and displayed various quilts she designed over time. Her quilts ranged in size, color, pattern and tone. “It connects me with all women. Quilting is a female’s thing. Men quilt too, but it’s a women’s thing. It connects me to women from the past. It represented their simple lives through the patterns, so that empowers me to be like other women of the past,” said Bleacher.
Bleacher said she enjoyed seeing the younger women’s art but she was surprised by the explicit language expressed and said she had forgotten about that part of the college experience.
Khaliya Jackson, freshman sociology and political science double major, read her two poems in the middle of the event. Her poems were explicit and talked about her experience, female consumption, ownership, voyeurism and struggling with the female position and various other topics.
“My poems are me and my existence. People experience their identities and they may share it in very different ways and, for me and my poetry, I’m just trying to express how I feel it. My one poem, Gormandize – it really talks about ownership and consumption, like owning someone, devouring someone and that hits on multiple levels as a woman or a female body. Feeling owned,” said Jackson.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the art, circling around Ida B. Wells Lounge taking in all the different kinds of mediums.