STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
An artful dialogue on gender, identity, and women’s equality begins this week in Philadelphia. Two Montgomery County artists’ work will “speak” as part of “The Gender Weave Project” at Mount Airy Art Garage (MAAG).
The exhibit features the work of students from Moore College of Art & Design (the only all-female visual arts college in the country) and professional artists. The goal is to generate discussion on gender and identity and to challenge social norms to overcome prejudice and misconceptions.
Linda Slodki, co-founder of MAAG, thinks that it’s an important discussion, through the artwork displayed and also through a panel called “Weaving Equality: Exploring Gender and the Arts,” which will be held on International Women’s Day on March 8.
“What does gender mean to you in your art? What does ‘women’s rights’ mean to you? What’s your vision? Let’s talk about it,” Slodki said.
Carol Wisker, of Bala Cynwyd, is excited to be part of an exhibit that isn’t afraid to discuss all aspects of being female and what that means.
“There are a number of pieces that deal directly with sexuality. It’s really out there, addressing it in a raw way,” she said. “The rawness is done with a lot of thought and intellectual caring. There’s a lot of thought behind how it’s presented.”
Some of the topics the artists tackle aren’t seen often in gallery settings, she said.
“Men have dealt with the female body for centuries as an object. These are talking about the female body as a natural occurrence and beauty. It’s nice to see beauty in the show,” she said.
Wisker has two pieces in the exhibit. One pays homage to the women of embroidery. Another uses antiques and new materials to reference part of her family history, she said. She likes combining old and new, soft and hard materials – combining the masculine and feminine in her work.
She hopes that the exhibit will help younger people get more of their feminine aspects out into the art world, which has become minimalist, she said.
“Having expression of what you really feel about sexuality and gender is not readily available,” she said. “I want to see what young people are talking about in their work. I think the show does that well.”
Maryann Worrell, of Phoenixville, has three sculptures that work together. Most people who see them say they resemble female genitalia, she said. She created the pieces a few years ago while contemplating journeys and the paths people take. She started out to make pods that she could crawl into, almost like going back to the womb, she said.
“For me, they represent the maternal side,” she said. “They certainly represent the feeling of a woman’s ability to bring comfort to a situation.”
She was surprised when they the work was finished.
“When I made the first one, I didn’t know that I intended it to look that way,” she said. “It’s an interesting sculpture. It’s in your face, a little bit funny, and intriguing. I hope so anyway.”
She hopes her piece as well as the exhibit in totality will get people talking, for all the right reasons.
“Any time you can open up room for discussion about equality in any form – gender, race, sexuality,” she said, “and any time you’re opening up conversations, that’s always a step forward.”
IF YOU GO
What: The Gender Weave Project
When: Feb. 27 through March 29; reception 6 p.m. Feb. 27.
“Weaving Equality: Exploring Gender and the Arts” panel 3-5 p.m. March 8.
Where: MAAG, 11 West Mt. Airy Ave., in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia.
Admission: The exhibit is free; the March 8 panel is $10.
Info.: Call 215-242-5074 or visit http://mtairyartgarage.org/