Exhibition examines gender, identity notions

By Sabreena Saleem

The Art Museum’s Gender and Identity Exhibition Suite explores and questions concepts of gender and sex.

The suite features three exhibits: Manly Men, Girly Girls and Everybody in Between, Dressing Difference: Exploring Ethnicities in Modern Burma, and (Re)Defining Womanhood in American Popular Culture.

In the entrance of the Art Museum, two bookcases display collections from Rare Books and Special Collections.

“The Rare Books and Special Collections has a gender studies collection which incorporates as in part what we collect materials that interrogate and examine the notion of gender,” said Lynne M. Thomas, Rare Books and Special Collections curator.

“One of the interesting things to me is how our notion of gender identity changes over time, so I decided that it would be interesting to fill one case with historical examples of the discussion about gender and gender identity and in particular womanhood, and then the other case would be full of contemporary materials that interrogate the notion of a gender binary all together. Nevermind the gender roles that are typically ascribed to women.”

The galleries contain two exhibits: One features displays of costume and body adornment from the Burma Art Collections at Denison University and NIU, and the other includes contemporary art including video, drawings, photography and performance art from 10 artists. The suite includes a viewing room where popular gender, transgender and drag movies like “Some Like It Hot” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” can be viewed.

The Art Museum’s galleries often features multiple exhibits relating to one theme.

“We just try to pick a subject that we can relate to and that is more contemporary like privacy and gender issues,” said Ilona Tsebro, senior painting major and gallery assistant. “There can be so many different points of view.”

This fall’s suite theme was inspired by a previous exhibition.

“The idea for the show stemmed from a show two years ago when I was doing research for another show on Southeast Asia. I kept finding interesting things going on about gender in Southeast Asia,” said art museum director Jo Burke. “I had so much to learn and it’s so different in every country, how we think about gender.”