Feminist Iconography II: A platform for justice

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“Blake’s Choice” by Dylan Napsady (digital animation.) The image is part of the WSC’s “Feminist Iconography II” exhibition, as well as a graphic novel that Napsady is creating.

Jason Dustin

Sports Editor

“Feminist Iconography II,” presented by the Women’s Studies Collective (WSC) at the University of West Florida, in conjunction with The Art Gallery, will open on Tuesday and run through Saturday.

The show includes work submitted by community artists, alumni, current UWF art students, as well as students from other regional universities, said Erica Miller, WSC president. “The call for artists was open to the community; there were really no restrictions,” Miller said.

Pieces that would be relevant to the women’s movement were sought, and artists were encouraged to experiment with their personal form and style, according to the exhibition’s call for artists.

“Historically, women’s contribution to art has been somewhat erased,” Miller said. “So what we’re trying to do, first and foremost, is bring attention to our local and regional artists, both men and women, but artists who are feminists, who want to contribute to the feminist art movement.”

“Mental Frustration – Menstruation,” a sculpture by Jennifer Foehl-Rodriguez, a UWF senior, is one of three pieces the studio art major has in the 2015 show.

“I used wire and melted crayon to express the different shades of reds and even browns that are released during the shedding of the lined uterus,” Foehl-Rodriguez said in the piece’s description. “Do you really think a lot of people talk about that?” she said. “But bringing people into the studio forces people to do that.”

Another of her entries, “Sexual Crimes,” employs melted wax dripped upon and cascading a sketch of a provocative female figure. Below the figure, the wax pools, and within it is embedded a chain. She said that the piece is intended to note the high expectation of emphasized sexuality to which women are often held.

An Aug. 4 WSC Facebook post stated, “We believe that there are as many definitions of feminism as there are women on the planet.” There may be more.

Dylan Nadsady is a UWF junior who is male and a self-described feminist.

“I do consider myself a feminist,” Nadsady said. “I can say that I like the equality and the justice that should be there. The idea that seems to escape us a bit.”

“Queen by New Blood” is one of Nadsady’s three submissions.

“It started off as just a study, but then it grew afterward to fix the composition of the painting,” Nadsady said of the painting. “I turned the model into an amputee by removing her arm and bandaging it and adding a certain grit to it.”

The subject’s bare torso dominates the vertical composition, which Nasady said possesses a certain regality and confidence, despite the wound. The view extends from just above the relaxed and seated figure’s mouth to just above her hips.

“‘Queen by New Blood’ shows the journey and how much that journey affected her. How long and strenuous it was to reach this point of where she can be so proud,” Nadsady said.

The exhibition is charged with purpose on many levels, according to organizers and contributing artists.

“A big reason why I wanted to submit so many pieces to the show is because it is personal,” said Foehl-Rodriguez, who missed last year’s show.

“We have a lot of work that deals with subjects such as sexual violence, rape culture, just some of those concerns that exist within the feminist movement,” Miller said. “But other than that, we also have a number of works that illustrate the solidarity of the feminist movement.

“What happens is we have a diversity of these ideas come together, and we’re able to bring attention to the feminist movement show the public what feminism looks like.”

The exhibition also addresses artists as craftspeople apart from the cause, according to Nadsady.

“I like that constraint of themes,” Nadsady said. “I’m one of those people that believe that limitations actually help free your mind and make you think.  I hope more shows like this come up.”

The 2014 show’s opening reception drew more than 200 people, according to Miller. She says she is optimistic that with time the exhibition will draw increasing attention.

“That’s what we’re hoping, that it becomes an annual show,” she said. “That people will recognize the name ‘Feminist Iconography’ and understand what the purpose of this show is.  Not necessarily what to expect, but to have an idea of what we’re trying to do.”

Foehl-Rodriguez agreed. “It will bring people into a space for a specific amount of time and it will allow people to see these artworks created around this topic, soak it in, understand it, and talk to the artist if they’re curious. It may educate some people about what feminism is to that artist, or to themselves.”

The opening reception for “Feminist Iconography II” is from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5 in The Art Gallery inside the Center for Fine and Performing Arts. Admission is free.