“Femfolio”: Students respond to the exhibition

A selection of works from the Femfolio portfolio is currently on view at the Malinda Berry Fischer Gallery at the Oklahoma State University Foundation. This collaboration between the OSUF and the OSU Museum of Art has offered students and other visitors a rare opportunity to see work from our permanent collection before the Postal Plaza Gallery opens next fall. In this week’s post, students enrolled in ART 3663: History of American Art respond to the exhibition. We invite you to see how their responses compare with your own at the reception for the show this Thursday, December 6, from 5:30-7:00pm—or anytime through the end of the month.

“The title suggests females, yet it is not a collection of delicately painted portraits of demure ladies in lace dresses; it is not a collection of grotesque jarring images of childbirth or menstruation. It is a collection of artists that feel emotions and think thoughts beyond their sex.” —Casey Pankey

“I had the idea from the title that I would be viewing very feminist pieces of art. I was shocked to find the pieces varied greatly and had separate personalities. I now know the title was not for the artwork, but for the women who created the artwork.” —Shannon Mellicker

“I felt that this exhibition did not tell a story. Each work was so different, they didn’t come together as a whole. All of the pieces were so out of the ordinary.” —Angelique Passafiume

“These artists created a revolution with their works… They wanted to show that women were not inferior to men in art. I’m not sure the works in this exhibition are the perfect fit for this theme. Some of the works are too abstract and don’t make sense in terms of revolution.” —Marty McNamara

Martha Wilson, "I Make Up the Image of My Perfection/I Make Up the Image of My Deformity" (detail), 2007. Digital print, Art Department purchase, 2008.071.020.

Martha Wilson, “I Make Up the Image of My Perfection/I Make Up the Image of My Deformity” (detail), 2007. Digital print, Art Department purchase, 2008.071.020.

I Make Up the Image of My Perfection/I Make Up the Image of My Deformity, by Martha Wilson, is the definition of a juxtaposition. It shows a woman who is well kept and wearing a face in which she wishes to be known. In contrast and placed directly beside it is another mug shot of the same woman who has in this picture decided to reveal her blemishes as well as a “deformity” in her face by means of twisted contour. This picture stood out to me because at first it really confused me. I came to the conclusion of, women choose who they are. A woman makes herself. The face of a woman in society can take on the shape of anything.” —Dakota Deramus

 “I Make Up the Image of My Perfection/I Make Up the Image of My Deformity by Martha Wilson is also showing the rebellious nature of the artist against other people’s perception of the beautiful. She holds control over how she is perceived in art and in real life; other people do not have that control.” —Ashley Ward

“The exhibition is very visitor-friendly with a helpful staff at the front desk to direct you and with an informational brochure providing the viewer with a brief summary of the exhibition’s goals.” —Sarah Twomey

 “The description of the exhibition said there were works from 20 women [in the portfolio], but only 16 were in the gallery. It’s worth asking the question as to where the other four works are.” —Marty McNamara

“The artwork displayed in this exhibition cannot be defined specifically as feminine or done in a feminine style. Knowing that these artists were involved in a feminist artistic revolution in the seventies it makes sense that they would be trying to break out of the stereotypical subject matter that women were expected to depict.” —Ashley Ward

Nancy Spero, Maypole-War, 2007. Digital print with lithography, Art Department purchase, 2008.071.016.

Nancy Spero, Maypole-War, 2007. Digital print with lithography, Art Department purchase, 2008.071.016.

“There are themes of war and death in this exhibition. Nancy Spero’s Maypole-War is an assemblage of disembodied heads that are joined by a tether to a maypole. Almost all of the faces are straining and yelling and passionate. From the suggestion of the title, these faces are at war with one another, yet they remain connected.” —Casey Pankey

“I would most definitely recommend this exhibition to others because the pieces were done in different styles than most, and the artists were all women who really made names for themselves and left a stamp on the art world.” —Sterling Hayden

“None of the works in this exhibition make overt statements regarding the traditional concepts of femininity. Instead, they unite as a group to redefine the word as a word that brings to mind powerful visual imagery of issues beyond sexual identity.” —Casey Pankey

 “While this exhibition provided a peek into past feminist struggle, all of these pieces were completed in the 2000s. I found this to be a part of the message itself. To me this meant that these women felt that the feminist revolution is not yet over and that women must still fight for their equality in society. As a young woman putting herself through college the ideal of a powerful female is something beautiful and appealing.” —Sarah Twomey

The Femfolio exhibition is on view through the end of December 2012 at the Malinda Berry Fischer Gallery. The Gallery is open Monday–Friday, 8am-5pm, and from 5:30-7:00pm on Thursday, December 6, 2012.

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About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
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