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Group Exhibit

May 11 - July 1, 2018

OPENING RECEPTION:   Friday May 11  6-10PM


BRINGING SEXY BACK is an exhibition that seeks to explore human sexuality through the perspective of the artist.  The United States is going through a revolution of sexual awareness that can be attributed to the boom of social media, censorship, open dialogue about sexuality and the influx of online dating. People of all genders are fighting for their right to express their sexuality without objectification. In the piece, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” Robyn Day explains that, “This photo-collage is also a celebration of trans visibility and our changing conceptions of gender and sexuality more broadly.” While many are unapologetically embracing and expressing themselves sexually, others are still striving to be comfortable with this concept. The purpose of this exhibition is to showcase work that engages in this dialogue in a way that is open and accessible.  

Touching on nudity in the public realm, Jason E. Jones states that “freedom of expression stops when it comes to the female being nude.” Jones’s piece, titled “Nude Beach,” details a nude silhouette of a female sunbather. He raises the concern that men are able to be topless on beaches, while women are forced to cover their nipples. Now also encompassed in the “public realm,” social media has furthered this precedent of censoring the female body. In retaliation to social media censorship, the hashtag “#FreeTheNipple” was created in response to the banning of exclusively female nipples on social media. Topless men can readily be seen online, in advertisements, on the beach and walking down the

street, while women are shamed for showing skin. The female nude does make its appearance throughout pre-historic and historic art, however, there are great stretches of time when the female body is covered. The current sexual revolution is fighting to knock down these walls.

Due to the persisting negative association with the female nude in some circles, artists have also been challenged to express sexuality with the absence of the body. Michael Coakes in his piece “Raison D’être” pushes on the current boundaries by alluding to the female form without starkly depicting it. He states, “The yonic quality of the forms within the image have a suggestively sexy implication.” The human instinct to see sexuality in the suggestion of shape has also been demonstrated in art history through Georgia O’Keefe’s allegedly unintentional phallic paintings. Through the power of allusion, one is able to override censorship, and indulge in an image of female genitalia masquerading as a flower.

Samantha Ouvalong in “Knotted” embraces the cultural symbolism surrounding a Chinese brassier and the color red. Ouvalong says, “Red to the Chinese represents happiness, but in Western culture, it represents seduction.” In her photograph she merges these two concepts and puts forth the idea of a contemporary revolution that opens dialogue about sexuality around the world, which has been made more possible due to the internet. 

There are other issues that surface with the regular use of the internet through social media. In her piece, “Not Ready (Leap of Faith),” Lillia Dent touches on the intimidating yet accessible nature of online speed dating. Dent says, “With greater freedoms and possibilities than ever before, navigating this chaotic environment requires one to take much greater leaps of faith in terms of baring oneself (both metaphorically and literally) than previous generations.” This suggests that there is greater emphasis and expectation on sexuality today. Perhaps this is due to hook-up apps, like Tinder, sexual depictions in TV shows and movies or the increased accessibility of online pornography.

Building upon the subject of online expression of sexuality, the artist Margaret Liang highlights the negative boundaries that can be breached when the female body is presented in an extremely erotic way. Liang’s piece is a collection of found pornographic images she transferred to polaroid photos with written captions. She says, “In this work, I chose random texts of men talking about women in sex and wrote them on the bottom of each photograph. In this way, making the whole piece almost journal-like, and, thus, highlighting the seriously problematic fact that sexual objectification of females has become a casual, daily talk between people.” These concerns show the delicate balance between freedom of expression and freedom from objectification that all people face in today’s sexual climate.

These sixteen artists have encompassed the topic of sexuality and its boundaries in their many contexts. Some choose to appreciate the nude form for what it is, while others challenge the viewer to reflect upon their own attitudes towards sexual expression. Our hope is that these works of art will incite conversation not only in the gallery, but on the virtual scape as well.

Artists: Amalia Kouvalis, Benjye Troob, Chris Geier, Domingo Odon, Geraldine Rodriguez, Giuseppe Lupo, Jason E. Jones, Lillia Dent, Margaret Liang, Michael Caci, Michael Coakes, Robyn Day, Samantha Oulavong, Sharon Bladholm, Stafford Smith and Susan Hong-Sammons.

BRINGING SEXY BACK runs May 11th – July 1st and is curated by Gallery Director Chris Jackson and Assistant Gallery Director Kaitlyn Miller.

Artist’s Reception is Friday, May 11, 2018, from 6-10pm. Free to the Public

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