Strong Women in Powerful Art

Published November 21, 2011 by mickala

When one walks into an art exhibit the first piece visible usually sets the tone for the visit, the exhibit “Doin’ It In Public” at the Ben Matz Gallery at Otis college definitely follows this standard. “Cock and Cunt” is exactly what it says it is, two giant bright pink stuffed vinyl pieces, shaped to represent their namesakes. Props from a play by feminist Judy Chicago, they set the right tone for the exhibit. This art show pays tribute to The Woman’s House in LA, and is part of a larger art show taking place all throughout Los Angeles, entitled “Pacific Standard Time”. This particular exhibit tries to capture the spirit and strong voices of the women of this house and it does it quite well. The women have spoken and this exhibit says that loud and clear.

Judy Chicago is a name seen in abundance throughout this exhibit. Pictures of herself at protests, books, poems, plays she has written. One of the most influential pieces in this exhibit is also by Chicago. Entitled “Virginia Woolf” this piece features a bright mixture of colors swirling around the canvas. It reminds one of a spiral that if you stare at it longs enough you could become dizzy. Words about describing the great feminist writer Virginia Woolf are neatly written around the borders of the painting.

This exhibit has a very energetic feel to it. Everywhere you look powerful, outspoken women are staring back at you. Their voices can be heard in the videos that are shown. One particular piece makes the television part of the piece by placing it in a washing machine. On the wall behind the picture-projecting machine are blown up pictures of women doing normal housework duties like, dusting mopping and hanging clothes. However these women are in the middle of the city, dusting buildings, hanging clothes on street signs. The statement is simple and yet very powerful. Women help make the world a better place. There jobs are not limited to the household, their influence on the city of Los Angeles is extremely important to the history of the city and that is what the Woman’s Building was trying to make clear, and it is what this exhibit highlights.

Much of this exhibit is not easy to look at it, and it is meant to be that way. It is supposed to get under your skin, make you think and perhaps even appall you, as long as it affects you in some way or another, it is achieving its purpose. One particular section portrays pictures of varieties of protest that women had done in Los Angeles, bringing the subject of rape to the forefront. Women would find out where rapes had taken place, they would paint a body on the sidewalk and leave a single rose on the outlined body. The demonstrations themselves must have been very powerful and the exhibit does an excellent job in capturing those emotions. “Doin’ It In Public” is a racy, hard-hitting event that is not something to ponder lightly. This exhibit hits you fast and hard between the eyes and make you think. Some pieces you will walk by quickly, others will absolutely mesmerize you. Either way it will definitely educated you in the thoughts and lives of the women from The Woman’s Building in Los Angeles.

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