The 39th Annual Gender Studies Symposium Art Show held in Stamm Dining Room was a creative multimedia experience. The symposium’s theme of “Tensions of Possibility” sparked a diverse array of mesmerizing pieces including paintings, photographs, sculpture, poetry and mixed media works of art. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the events scheduled on March 13, the final day of the symposium, were canceled. This included the art exhibit.
Each featured piece was uniquely thought-provoking alone, but the collection of creations, which were all based on the same theme, promoted an atmosphere of investigation and examination. The juxtaposition of these diverse works of art told a story — the story of how strict gender binaries impact so many individuals. Yet, in refusing to conform to these limiting stereotypes and shattering barriers that have existed for far too long, art and beauty are created.
Additionally, many pieces featured commented on immense pain and struggle, such as facing gender and sexual discrimination, coping with feelings of dysphoria and the journey of self-acceptance. While other pieces did not appear to draw from a personal experience, this theme of pain and struggle was captured in the use of the materials themselves. These pieces included shattered pottery and pieces composed of frayed and tattered fabric. Thus, the pieces in unison similarly told the story of how art emerges from dark times and how beauty can still exist within the imperfect.
It was truly a shame to see the art show have such an abrupt ending. As for myself, I wish I could have spent far longer inside the exhibit, taking in the pieces as a collective unit. Yet, I was forced to limit my time in Stamm and did not touch the interactive pieces due to fear of exposure to COVID-19. Seeing that this will be the last time I will be able to attend a gallery space for a while, this exhibit was one that has left me with much to ponder and has inspired me to reconnect with my own artistic self during my time in quarantine.