In your own words, what is the show about?
The show examines how categories of identity and concepts of place are produced in various art forms, from photography to performance to painting.
It includes artists outside of the VCU arts community, and incorporates poetry and film into the dialogue enabling different forms of creative expression.
It presents work that expands or nuances dominant categories and binaries of identity while examining concepts of place, specifically the idea of belonging or not belonging in either a conceptual or geographical space.
How did you get involved?
I first got involved my junior year when I submitted work to the spring show organized by Art Mafia. After seeing the work and amount of people involved, I wanted to be a part of the planning process. I liked that the work shown was not just work from the Fine Arts building but intergrated other art majors like photo, film, kinetic imaging, communication arts, and graphic design. There was also work from local artists and poetry was organized into the show too. I liked how accessible the show was in this way. It disrupted hierarchies that can occur within the art school and worked to include various forms of making and expression that are not always considered or accepted (i.e. poetry & zines!) It also was not afraid to create discussion around categories and issues of identity such a race, class, and gender. There definitely is a lot of work that starts conversation around these concepts in the art school but it was really powerful to see it all in one place. I wanted to be a part of that conversation.
What will you be contributing to the show?
I collaborated on a piece with Elisa Rios! We printed on velvet — it’s on the second floor of Crenshaw! Also with the help of Safiya Bridgewater, I organized a program zine. I had a lot of fun making it and it was crucial to have a program that represented each artist involved and gave insight into how and why they made their work.
What was the preparation like? Extremely collaborative?
Earlier on in the semester, the GSWS Dept sends out a call for folks interested in planning the art show. We unofficially call this group the Art Mafia. We send the call out to artists who’ve been in the show before and to folks who’ve helped plan the show before, but also to the entire GSWSstudent body, alumni, and anyone who follows us on social media. There is plenty cross-over with students and faculty who are both in the arts and in GSWS. But being an artist or artsy is not a requirement to be in the Art Mafia. Then we hold meetings (sometimes with pizza!) where we brainstorm ideas and concepts of an event. And from there we make it happen—we plan it out step by step. Usually, interest in the project grows and friends of folks planning the show show up to help too. So, yes, the preparation for this show, from conceptualizing to jurying to figuring out which pieces go where is a very collaborative process.
What are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about student-led panel discussion about performance and identity. This is going to be the first time we integrate a discussion about the ideologies of the show within the show. It will be interesting to be in an non-classroom academic, artistic space where performances are taking place at the same time we are talking about the performances of our lives.
There will also be two performances taking place during the show, one by Gabby Namm and another by Tara German. We hope that live performances along with live poetry will make a powerful connection to the panel discussion.
How has your involvement with the Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies department influenced the work that you make?
My involvement in GSWS has had a large impact on my work. Several of my classes, professors, and texts have generated concepts and directions for me. This semester, a lot of my readings in Dr. Pathak’s class have influenced my understanding of knowledge production and representation. In this class we have discussed the limited and fixed narratives that are often created for categories of identity and how this can be colonizing— We’ve also talked about how the lumping together of race or gender or class can be homogenizing. This can be difficult to unpack and has many complex layers especially when making work within an academic setting; however art provides the opportunity, the space to expand and disrupt these narratives — it can allow individuals to create their own narrative.
What do you hope people will take away from the show?
I hope that the work will confront issues of place and how it can affect performance of self. Ultimately I want everyone to have fun! Participate in some of the interactive work installed, take a zine home, and read poetry at the open mic!
Thank you so much - is there anything else you’d like to add?
The show will be up through Spring and Summer Semesters, so please come to 919 W Franklin Street to check it out! Unfortunately our building is not accessible, so we are working to expand the show beyond our building in the future. Wanna help us do that? Let’s get a head start for next year! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.