The exhibition “Intersections of Gender and Place” is on view at the Mississippi University for Women Galleries through Nov. 3. This year, the exhibition series features artwork by Jaime Aelavanthara, Cynthia Buob, Denise Stewart Sanabria and Rachel Ann Wakefield.
This recurring exhibition explores the significance gender plays in the artwork of southern artists. The project is two-fold: first, to examine potential feminist themes in contemporary art and second, to discover how southern culture has informed the artwork. Two of the artists, Buob and Stewart Sanabria, are transplants to the South, while Aelavanthara and Wakefield are native to this region. All of the artists acknowledge that living in the South has influenced their artmaking and demonstrate the diversity to be found in the region.
“We always look forward to this exhibition because the artists have such diverse approaches to the parameters of the series,” said Dr. Beverly Joyce, director of the MUW Galleries. “This year’s installment is no different. The artwork ranges from Southern gothic to burlesque.”
Most of photographer Aelavanthara’s artwork on display are from her “Untamed” series of cyanotypes, set in the rural environs of the deep South. Through unexpected juxtapositions, Aelavanthara explores what she calls “the intimate relationship of a feral woman and her surrounding nonhuman environment.”
Contemporary life in the Golden Triangle, as seen through the female form, is the focus of Buob’s paintings. Buob has lived in Columbus for many years, and she has featured many locals in her artwork, which she calls her “visual storytelling.” Some of her representations are personal, as in her self-portrait where she humorously captures the story of pandemic-era teaching. She is an art instructor at East Mississippi Community College.
A playful critique of patriarchy is the focus of sculptor Stewart Sanabria’s “The Complications of the Male Gaze,” comprised of large-scale figures drawn on wood. The work draws upon film theory about the passivity and objectification of the female by the male-dominated art form. Stewart Sanabria writes that “In my piece, females get to laugh at the concept.” The figures are realistically drawn from candid photographs, mostly shot at art receptions.
Wakefield questions the notion of feminine beauty in her photorealist paintings of the suburban southern woman.
Located in Summer Hall, Mississippi University for Women Galleries are open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with extended hours to 7 p.m. on Thursdays. The galleries are free and open to the public.