From slut walks and bloodstained pants to pussies grabbing back, violent assertions of feminine authority are arising exponentially. Spencer Tunick’s Everything She Says Means Everything had 100 women standing naked holding round mirrors to the rising sun. 600 women artists came together for a photography at the Brooklyn Museum. Women—and men—throughout the art community have voiced their concerns and consistent disappointments with the media coverage of President-Elect Donald Trump’s numerous violations against women. Unforgettably, Hillary Clinton has earned more popular votes than any other person running for the presidency—except Obama 2008. It is not surprising to find an overwhelming ratio of 2:3 artists confronting the notions of womanhood and femininity in Georgia State University’s Ernest G. Welch’s School of Art and Design exiting show. The millennial female is taking cues from the world that now is a dynamic time to demonstrate womanly jurisdiction.
Megan Glasscock’s images of big cats on numerous uterus-shaped cut outs figuratively grabs the pussy back—and are titled as doing so. Black and white cutout portraits of 10 Untitled Women make a checkerboard with Glasscock’s cats. The cats have a full range of black and white where the linocut portraits are literally black and white, suggesting a grey-scale break within the binary narrative of the passive woman versus the bossy woman.
Glasscock’s stars of the show are not passively sitting on the wall, however. They stand, hang, and lie down opposite the linocuts and cats. Four women are skinned, baring muscle and fat—no hearts or soft organs are present. Only one of the women addresses the viewers with her eyes, and coincidentally, she is the only one attempting to hide her body. The others flaunt their under-skin, one asking to be painted like a French girl, one stretching, but the other is tied up, forced to show herself. The varying displays of women mimics the array of double standards, contradictory, and incompatible modes of women regarded in public display.
All the while, Shae Edman’s photograph Xposing Immersion has literal contact with her “pussy” as reclamation of sexuality after a prolonged grievance with her assaulter and everything—and everyone involved. Baby pink comfort shrouds provocative elements in Edman’s Reclaiming Pink: An Xposé. A curtain is installed in front of the photograph like a young girl’s princess bed drapery. A pink silicone camera with an o-ring points at her photograph, invading—or in reverence? Completing a physically triangular composition, a pink hand reaches out—for help or for comfort?—bundled by a leather belt. The leather belt has suggestive and controversial words charred into it—sick, exposed, hand, depend.
Another form of controversy finds itself within Ignacio Rivera’s three large-scale photographs from his ongoing photo series Lupita. In this series, Rivera confronts his emotions through the “protective bubble” of Lupita, his female counterpart. He navigates a binary system similar to Glasscock’s linocuts, but within the larger gender scale of male versus female or masculine versus feminine. Pictured are the general experiences of any female: practicing balance, riding a boat, and pumping gas; however, knowing that someone who is transgender holds the spotlight complicates said normalized binary system.
More subtly, Jes Bailey’s The Nightgown Series inundates a free standing white gallery wall much like an American Apparel window display. Satin nightgowns disrupted by embroidered text dangle from hangers. The word “sorry” repeated seemingly a hundred times overwhelms one off-white gown while the words “Left or Right” ask for a comparison of one nightgown’s deflated breasts. The smooth surfaces are jarringly interrupted by plain words, functioning as reminders of the nighttime anxieties and experiences of a woman who might wear such frocks.
Katherine Miele and Alexis Huckaby look toward the place a woman may be when putting on or removing Bailey’s gowns: the bathroom. Miele showcases nongendered toilets and tubs in a couple of her exiting pieces; however, Huckaby directly feminizes her bathroom paraphernalia as tools for “taking up space” as a woman. Her digitally manipulated materials—soft wash clothes, hot pink razors, and fine china embroidery—overwhelm the image space in her photographs.
It is not difficult to feel the estrogen in the air of Ernest G. Welch’s exiting BFA Show this fall. Just as easily, the influences and cues from the larger scope of society are bestowing unto Georgia State University’s artists the approval, motivation, dominion to confer on the female paragon.