“How do the objects that surround us every day tell stories about gender?”
Students in WGS 101 Representations of Girls and Women were posed this question in Fall 2015. 120 students were asked to produce creative projects that reveal, transform, challenge, subvert, or otherwise expose the ways that gender – shared and largely taken for granted ideas about masculinity and femininity – are embedded in the objects, images, and artifacts that surround us daily.
More than a dozen creative works from this class are on view at femlab from February 15th through to April 15, 2016.
“I would spend my days walking through dense forest often stumbling upon forbidden spaces where men went to escape and to drink”
Beer Tent for Girls evokes the excitement of discovery – the discovery of forbidden spaces, the discovery of autonomy, and the discovery of youthful rebellion. Nickerson’s beer tent – handwoven with thick, burlap twine and off white and pink strips of fabric – hangs precariously from the ceiling and is held down temporarily by rocks collected from local gardens. A hidden drinking camp for women and girls, this musty beer tent beckons rebellion and gives the finger to the often stringently patrolled gender roles that position “good” girls in domestic settings.
Ali is a recent graduate of the MFA program at the University of Alberta and is currently the artist in residence at the Harcourt House Gallery. To see her work, why not check out www.alinickerson.com or read an interview on Curious Arts, the University of Alberta’s arts blog.
“Zines resist and challenge binary thinking; they evoke the complexity and plurality of ways of being.” -Randi Nixon and Kristin Rodier
Zines are self-produced and often hand-made magazines that are circulated by mail or by hand. Feminist zines were first produced in the early 1990s, and as Alison Piepmeier points out in her 2009 book Girl Zines: Making Media, Making Feminism, these little books cover “every imaginable subject matter, from food politics to thrift shopping to motherhood.” Despite the wide variety of topics and the multiple ways that zines can be defined, one of the primary characteristics of zines is to share, spread, inform and educate about experiences that have been historically marginalized and suppressed. In this way, zines have become important sites of both community building and identity formation.
Students in Kristin Rodier and Randi Nixon’s WGS 201, Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies, explored zines in a creative assignment this winter. Students were asked to work in small groups to make zines that engaged with course concepts, issues and themes. Students were encouraged to relate what was discussed in the course to real world examples and personal experiences, through song lyrics, poetry, collages, illustrations, recipes, how-to guides, or any mode they deemed effective.
Several zines from this class were on view in the Feminist Exhibition Space, along with an exhibition of “zine pages” – individual pages from some of the many zines produced for WGS 201, from May 1 to September 4, 2015
“My interest in lipsticks and bullets stems from the fact that they are so visually similar and yet, to me, represent opposite ends of the gender socialization spectrum” – Cindy Baker
In the installation Lipsticks and Bullets, Cindy Baker compels viewers to consider the overlapping production histories of bullets and lipsticks. Working in a queer register, Baker sets out to confuse rather than clarify the distinctions between these objects and to challenge the gendered frameworks within which their meaning is secured.
The installation features a large collection of lipstick and lipstick-like, bullet and bullet-like objects, including some cast from the artist’s own body. Viewers are invited to taste candy lipstick and to try lipstick testers.
Currently based in Lethbridge, Alberta, Cindy earned an MFA at the University of Lethbridge, where she held a SSHRC grant for research on performance and the absence of the artist’s body. Cindy’s research-based practice draws from queer theory, gender studies, fat activism, and art theory.
Lipsticks and Bullets was on view in the Feminist Exhibition Space from September 15 to December 23, 2014.
“Often, as feminists, our decisions to call out instances of oppression and to challenge power dynamics are met with backlash.” – Danielle Normandeau
The Who Needs Feminism campaign was started by students at Duke University who wanted to challenge widespread misconceptions of feminism in contemporary Western culture. These students provoke their interlocutors to reconceptualize definitions of feminism.
Following the campaign at Duke, students involved in FUA, Feminists at the University of Alberta, decided that it was time to add more voices to this critical discussion about feminism. Members of the FUA set up a table in HUB mall and asked students at the University of Alberta why they need feminism. The images included in this exhibit consist of their wide array of responses.
Who needs feminism was on display in the Feminist Exhibition Space from July to September 2013. Women’s and Gender Studies librarian Jorden Smith organized the display of this work in the Rutherford Galleria and then at the Augustana campus library.
femlab is a creative laboratory for feminist practice at the University of Alberta.
It features creative work that has been created by U of A students in undergraduate courses in Women’s and Gender Studies, by MFA students and graduates, and feminist artists across the university and our wider community.
“This exhibit is an ongoing live installation. The primary focus of the installation is intellectual process and using art as a theoretical tool for attending to questions concerning law, conflict, gender, colonialism, and representation.” – Emily Snyder
For three months in the 2013 winter term, Emily Snyder spent Tuesday afternoons in the feminist exhibition space. During those hours, she made work, talked about art with visitors, and thought about the relationship between art-making and the themes of her dissertation project.
A PhD candidate in the Sociology department, Emily’s dissertation research explored and set out to understand representations of gender in Cree legal educational materials. She was interested, in this live installation, to think about the aesthetics of representations, the performance of representations, the use of particular aesthetics, and the socio-legal implications of the representations she examines in this work. This installation includes thinking critically about power and the complexities of indigenous and non-indigenous relations.
Emily made nests, drew birds, painted and wrote on the walls of the exhibition space with sharpie (if you look closely, you might still see what she wrote…).
In the Fall of 2013, Dr Snyder defended her dissertation in Sociology and took up a position as a SSHRC post-doctoral fellow at the University of Victoria.
Conflict/ Power/ Aesthetics ran from January 8 to March 26, 2013.