The slogan on a bright red bumper sticker displayed in the Honors Coffee Forum read, “Feminism, the radical notion that women are people.”
The opening reception Tuesday for “Our Stories, Ourselves,” the feminist art exhibit, featured student artwork, photography, writing and performances.
Lisa Okafor, computer information systems senior, heard about the exhibit through her roommate, Bridgette Cyr, who had artwork on display.
“I think it’s really awesome seeing the different faces of women throughout — as a young girl, through her teenage years, through adolescents, all the way up to adulthood — it’s really cool seeing those stages in a woman’s life,” Okafor said.
Okafor said she related to a bra titled “Chas – titties” made by Valerie Garza, a communication design senior.
“The artist is explaining how she’s such a strong woman, which is something I can relate to,” Okafor said. “She’s talking about how we spend so much money buying heels that hurt us and doing all these hurtful things to make us beautiful. Sometimes we get hidden in all that stuff and don’t really see how strong we are. We don’t need all these superficial things to make us realize how beautiful and powerful we really are as women.”
Cyr, photography senior, created the ceramic series, Cut, as a response to several weeks of research dealing with female genital circumcision, specifically in Kenya.
“By forming abstract female genitalia, I hope to bring not only attention to the ritual, but also to invite the viewer to explore the culture today that continues to participate in the ancient practice,” Cyr said in her artist’s statement.
Jennie Tudor Gray, studio art senior and exhibit curator, said the show was an offshoot from an art history seminar.
“I knew I wanted to deal with feminism in some way,” Gray said. “I just left it general rather than trying to get too specific to see what would turnout. It was a great … great response from everybody and it’s just interesting to see the different themes dealing with body images, or the body itself, sexuality, the stories of our families and how we are viewed. It’s interesting to see so much similarity is going on.”
Gray said she received entries from artists all around campus for the exhibit.
“It was open to all genders,” Gray said.
Gray, who goes by the moniker “thee crafty librarian,” had mixed media collages on exhibit and displayed books on feminism. She has worked at the Austin Museum of Art, Austin Public Library and “every bookstore in Austin.”
“Story telling is a huge part of my art,” Gray said. “When I worked at Half Price Books we would throw out books that were too old or damaged. I started collecting those and making art out of them. Now there’s a new altered book or altered art movement.”
Gray said she defines feminism as a human rights issue.
“Not all feminists would agree what I believe is feminist or not, but to me it’s about equal rights and having compassion for everybody and equal opportunity and pay,” Gray said.
The art exhibit will be on display from Wednesday to Dec. 11 in the Honors Coffee Forum. The gallery is located in Lampasas 407A.
— Bridgette Cyris is a photographer with The University Star.