"Equal Parts" examines identity, political responses

Visual art can create some of the most compelling conversations surrounding perceptions of identity and self-awareness, and the latest exhibition at Frontal Lobe Gallery confirms just that. 

"Equal Parts," which is curated by local artists Ashley Macias and Amanda Adkins, is a showcase of boldly expressive works of art that touch on themes of gender identity and politics, sexuality and overall self-identity. 

Adkins said the idea for the exhibition started with a conversation between her and Macias about what feminism meant to them.  It quickly snowballed into a decision to include both sexes in the show and represent issues dealing with feminism, sexism, gender identification, personal identity and masculinity, with or without political response.  

In the process of further visualizing the theme of the exhibition, Macias said she and Adkins weren't necessarily looking to keep the artwork gender-specific.

"It was really a matter of how far people were willing to go to test themselves and the subject," Macias said of the thematic development of the show. 

"Equal Parts" will be showing until April 27 at Frontal Lobe Community Space and Gallery at 1301 Grand Ave. in Phoenix. It will be open for Third Friday on April 17. 

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By Celina Jimenez | The State Press

Megan Koth's "Lipstick I, II, II (Slut, Bitch, Prude)", currently on display at Frontal Lobe Community Space and Gallery until April 27.

Although all artists exhibited widely diversified interpretations of identity, their conglomeration in the open, simple space of Frontal Lobe created a powerful context for an abundance of artistic voices to collectively shine. 

Damian Gomes' convoluted blend of earthy tones and visual messiness of "Just The Same" was no less powerful than the geometric brazenness of Julio Cesar Rodarte's piece, which showcased a husky male outline filled with various patterns and singular bold words. 

"We are all just a mass of bone, flesh and circumstance," Gomes' artist statement read. "Make the best of it."

Interestingly enough, the work of many other artists seemed to reflect some sort of derivative of this sentiment. 

"Every human struggles with the inability to not only accurately express themselves, but even to confidently convey the idea of who they are and what they represent to another human being," Katherine Simpson said in her artist statement. 

Kristin Bauer, who also created a conspicuous, text-based piece that was featured in MonOrchid’s "Feminism Today" gallery in March, welcomed visitors into the show with her text intervention on the floor near the entrance. The words "you had me at hello" in a bright pink Helvetica may seem to be a testament to a favorite romantic movie line, but Bauer says it's actually the opposite.

"I always hated that line (from the movie, 'Jerry Maguire')," she said. "It's the quintessential line of giving over power."

Aside from being an ironic expression of Renee Zellweger's infamous line, Bauer said the intervention (titled "You Complete Me") represents aspects of her personal opinion and upbringing while also being something that "is very much a spectrum and about gender and equality."

"It's subtly interactive because by walking over it, the viewer completes that piece and treats the line as a role," she added. 

On another level, Megan Koth's work added a glimpse into labeling and self-awareness through pieces that reflected an observance of cosmetic vanity. In fact, her "Fixation: Lip" was used as the advertisement for the exhibition. 

Her biggest piece was a three-part series of lipsticks, each of which carried a different derogatory title and negative societal connotation that is often attached to the type of woman who wears each shade. 

Two of the exhibition's most powerfully raw pieces were very different in execution and conception. In keeping with the thread of gender identity present throughout the exhibition, photographer Niba DelCastillo captured the transition of Mary, the subject of the photos.

"We are documenting her transition," DelCastillo explained in his artist statement. "Not a transition from a female body to a more masculine expression in a linear way, but rather a transition to a greater three dimensional exploration of what gender can be."

Another reeling piece was not a painting, a photograph or a sculpture; it was an audial and visual journey into the hyper-sexualization of the female form that set up a physically trashy space to accompany a showing of (blurred) internet pornography and a reading of clips from "Fifty Shades Of Grey."

The demonstration is intended to shock and inform, which it begins to accomplish even upon viewing the display.

"We are all in a position to practice acceptance, and without artistic expression and discussions on these topics people tend to sweep them under the rug," Adkins said. "I want people to listen openly and view artwork by people in their community who feel passionately about these issues."

Reach the reporter at celina.jimenez@asu.edu or on Twitter @lina_lauren.

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