MINING THE GAP
Spencer Museum of Art
May 2 - May 22, 2022
Mining the Gap was curated by Rachel Trusty and includes works from the Spencer Museum of Art permanent collection that bridge the gap between queer and feminist theories. The exhibition was curated in conjunction with the course "Feminist and LGBT+ Art 1965 - Present," which was designed and taught Trusty at the University of Kansas.
In Otherwise (2016), editors Amelia Jones and Erin Silver call for contributors to imagine an art history and a curatorial practice that is both queer and feminist, as these traditions have been seen as separate and sometimes contradictory. The objects in Mining the Gap answer this call by discussing both the material conditions of a gendered or sexed body while also revealing the constructed and arbitrary nature of gender.
Feminist history and theory attend to the lived experiences of women who face real cultural obstacles based on sexism and gender difference such as the gender wage gap, higher costs for healthcare and products, and working a 'double shift' at work and at home. Alternatively, queer theory is highly conceptual and presents biological sex, gender, and sexuality on a fluid spectrum. While this spectrum approach has resulted in real legal and cultural changes in society to recognize and support gender identities outside of the binary male and female, queer theory is still seen as a force that could perhaps overlook gender-based obstacles facing women. The aim of this exhibition is to use object-texts as contributions to this discourse.
The art objects included in Mining the Gap discuss cultural standards around gender such as masculinity, femininity, beauty, and desire. These pieces challenge norms around how bodies should look (presentation) and what bodies should do (performativity). A variety of media such as photography, painting, printmaking, and other mixed media is included in this exhibition to provide a range of objects that discuss similar themes in different ways. These different objects blur, blend, and challenge norms and histories to reveal how gender is constructed, relative, and arbitrary. Key to my curatorial approach is to celebrate how art objects can act as texts and contribute to the discourse in ways that scholarly writing cannot. These objects embody both feminist and queer spaces, therefore, filling the theoretical gap.