This week, I had the opportunity to visit a local artist’s exhibit at the Max L. Gatov Gallery and ask her a few questions about the exhibit she had on display. Jane Weibel, a senior at CSULB about to earn her BFA, had an exhibit called “I am a Feminist.” displaying a multitude of different kinds of art.
After exploring the exhibit, I decided to go to the exhibit description to discover what the meaning behind the art really was. In the description, Jane opened up to the audience about how she felt about the word “feminist”. Jane revealed that she had never made the public proclamation of being a feminist because of the stigma that accompanies it. Expressing her frustration that comes with this stigma, she made the exhibit with the purpose of expressing how women get objectified, stereotyped, shamed, spoken over, and so much more. Reading this description made the exhibit very clear for me. Everything started to have significance. The pile of shredded paper suddenly symbolized a shredded identity and the box made of recycled baskets resembled a contraption of imprisonment. Jane Weibel’s exhibit was the perfect balance. The meaning wasn’t totally obvious, but it also wasn’t to the point where viewers couldn’t understand where she was coming from. It was genius in the way that if you spent a few moments pondering it, you could uncover the message and appreciate how she portrayed it to the audience.
One of the other things that I thought was interesting were the colors. The exhibit radiated with bright, happy colors. Later on when I met with Jane, I asked if the use of colors in the exhibit had any particular significance. She replied that it did not have any significance to the purpose of the exhibit, however, she did feel like it was her own style. Jane felt like her work was colorful because it presented her own personal aesthetic and fondness of color. During our conversation, I also had the opportunity to ask Jane about one particular piece, a ceramics piece with no title.
I had trouble understanding the meaning of the piece in the picture above. Jane explained to me that it symbolized how women seem to be in uncomfortable positions in society. They seem to be “pulled in different directions” and faced the reality that if they take any of the available options they are offered, they will always face a negative result. The piece’s general meaning is that women are stuck in a hard place.
At first, my initial opinion with the exhibit was hesitance. I always avoided the word “feminist” because I didn’t like everything it was associated with. I think that initial reaction proves Jane’s message even more. What she is frustrated with is that initial reaction of disgust and annoyance that accompanies the word. If you are a feminist, you face ridicule, however if you are not, you don’t support women’s rights. It’s a complicated issue. I admire Jane’s bravery with this controversial topic and really appreciated this exhibit for everything it was: an aesthetically pleasing, well-thought-out, meaningful, and insightful experience.
Explore more of Jane Weibel’s work on her website: http://www.janeweibel.com