CONTINUUM: GENDER IDENTITIES
APRIL 30 – JUNE 3, 2011
GALLERY HOURS: TUESDAY – SUNDAY 12-4PM
– Designer Vintage Clothing Trunk Sale –
Thursday, May 19, 5:00 – 9:00 pm
– ARTIST WALK & TALKS –
Saturday, May 21, 3-4 PM
with Don Arsenault, Suzanne Benton, Regina Moss, Elizabeth Back & Ellen Schiffman
Saturday, May 28, 3-4 PM
with Claire Watson Garcia, Michael Elsden, Nina Bentley & Antonio Munoz
The idea for this show came to me a year ago while reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way for the fifth time. As the mother of a transgender son, I was searching for a voice, a way to “come out” in the town I am so proud to live in. I approached the Ridgefield Guild of Artists about doing a show on gender, and they embraced it enthusiastically. Together, we resolved to have a “big conversation in a small town.” The idea that art can create a safe space in which to explore timely and significant topics is a critical component of RGA’s mission.
Continuum: Gender Identities takes its name from the concept that each of us exists somewhere on the continuum between male and female. For some of us, that space is clearly defined; for others, it is more fluid. Some of us move about freely in the world in our given skins; others shed that skin and create a new one. This subject is important in a variety of ways, given the bombardment of gendered messages women, men, boys, and girls receive through the mass media each day; American society’s uneasy quest to define marriage; our embattled don’t-ask-don’t-tell military policy; our acceptance or non-acceptance of celebrities who have “come out”; and the very intimate struggle of individuals, young and old, who are questioning their own place on the gender spectrum.
I invited 52 artists—straight, gay, and in between–to depict gender: from traditional images of masculine and feminine, to work that bends or questions gender roles. They were invited to display their depictions of gender in any of its manifestations: in nature, in the human family, in a political context, as an abstract concept, or as a personal statement.
Some of the artists you see here have exhibited widely and to great acclaim; others have never shown their art before. Thus, the continuum extends in many directions, including media. You will see painting, sculpture, comic art, glass, photography, ceramics, jewelry, cyanotype, fiber art, digital art, woodcut, encaustic, and video art, created by artists from Holland, Korea, New Zealand, Ecuador, Canada, and Seattle, San Francisco, New Jersey, Vermont, Portland OR, Virginia, Rhode Island, New York, Santa Fe, Philadelphia, and Connecticut.
I truly believe that with information comes understanding. That is why I invited the artists to write statements about their art and their lives as they relate to the subject of the continuum, mounted next to their artwork. It’s why there is a gender bookshelf at the entrance to the show (and a bibliography at the back of the exhibition catalogue). It’s why adolescents were invited to write their thoughts and display their art in the upstairs gallery. When the world becomes a safer place for my son and everyone else who falls at various places on either end of the gender spectrum, it becomes a better place for us all.