The Fine Arts Department is pleased to present “Identity,” a thesis exhibition by graduating painting major Hali Bush. “Identity” is on view November 26 through November 30th, 2018 in Goodwyn Gallery. Bush is also hosting a public artist reception on Monday, November 26th at 5pm outside the Gallery.
Hali’s exhibition examines traditional notions of femininity, societal and cultural expectations for women, ideas about beauty and traditional gender expression, and double standards regarding female sexuality. As she explains in her artist statement, women “should be allowed to freely express our identities without worry of discrimination. Women are strong, independent entities, and Identity is my representation of how I view them and how I wish for them to rule their own lives without being constrained by a patriarchal society.”
In We’ve Always Coexisted (above) Hali describes how, “the triptych [that] represents three women, one who is transgender, one who is bisexual, and the last who is asexual. The flowers in each drawing contain the flag colors for each LGBTQ+ group represented.”
Regarding Not Your Mother Earth (above right) Hali writes that: “women, are not born to be identical to one another. In Not Your Mother Earth a woman is shown with a rabbit and a lily. Both the rabbit and woman have halos which mimic the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. … virginity is a concept that pushes young women to be “pure” while men are allowed to do whatever they want; it’s not a social construct that I think is necessary to have in our society, which is why I decided to mimic the Madonna. Likewise, women are not born to be wives. We are born to be individuals who should have inalienable rights over our bodies, sexual preferences, and well-being just like the white men who tend to be in power. We deserve the right to choose, much like our sexuality and gender identity.”
Finally, Hali describes her artistic inspiration, explaining how she “researched medieval book of hours, including The Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux, Queen of France (ca. 1324–28), not only because they interest me, but because of how the symbolism within many of the books that were written specifically for women reference their duty of being pious and their traditional roles of being wives and mothers. … Another inspiration was the Italian Baroque artist, Artemisia Gentileschi, and how her life story affected the way she painted strong female figures. I have also examined more contemporary artists such as Barbara Kruger and her designs that criticize the patriarchal culture in which we live, and Cindy Sherman, whose Untitled Film Stills consist of many portraits of female stereotypes.” Through this outside research, Hali considered how other female artists have likewise tried to represent the cultural and societal challenges that face women. This informs her senior exhibition, which “… showcase[s] specific subjects such as gender, sexuality, reproductive rights, gender roles, and the outdated societal standards of feminine beauty … [in order to] show that we, as women, are not born to be identical to one another.”