Thursday, May 19, 2011

Battle of the Sexes at the Delaware Art Museum

Three years ago, I wrote a proposal for the Delaware Art Museum, proposing an exhibition for the Philadelphia Women's Caucus for Art. It was an idea I'd had for a number of years, a participatory exhibition of women and men in which no names were displayed, and the public was asked to vote on whether or not they felt the works of art were created by men or by women.

And by a stroke of luck (of maybe it was just a good idea!) the proposal was accepted. So this past spring, the exhibition took place. I was fortunate enough to be back in Philly (more on that later) for the closing reception and big reveal.

As you can see below, only 42% of voters felt my work was made by a woman. Most of the artists participating wanted to make it a little difficult for the voting, case in point, several men who entered work featuring the color pink. Stereotypes clearly still exist, because the public decided that pink art had to be made by us ladies. Tech-based works and video were deemed male, and printmaking was pretty ambiguous.

While there, I was excited to see a museum guard encouraging viewers to check out the show. When I spoke to him, he asked me which piece was mine, and then told me that my piece really made him consider, but then he finally decided that I just had to be a guy. Hmmmmm.....

I have to give a shout-out here to Marie Elcin, who worked like crazy doing all the organization, museum liaising, and ballot counting (total ballots for the exhibition numbered over 5000, and Marie counted 'em all!). Thanks Marie!

As a final note, this exhibition garnered more press than the Philadelphia-WCA or the Delaware Art Museum expected. Check out some of these links for reviews and conversations started by this project:

In the Battle of the Sexes, Results Show We're Often Wrong

Delaware Art Museum Offers Battle of the Sexes And...We'll See
Battle of the Sexes Challenges Gender Preconceptions
Museums Experiment in Modern Art of Drawing Visitors
5 Things to Know About Delaware Art Museum's Battle of the Sexes
Women Artists Everywhere!
Identity Theft, Seeing or Not Seeing Gender in Art

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