Of manly men, girly girls and everybody in between

“Chloe, Kim, and Era, at the piers, NYC,” photograph by Mariette Pathy Allen; early 1990s; from “The Gender Frontier,” 2003
“Chloe, Kim, and Era, at the piers, NYC,” photograph by Mariette Pathy Allen;
early 1990s; from “The Gender Frontier,” 2003

“Manly Men, Girly Girls and Everybody in Between,” a group exhibition featuring work by 10 contemporary artists, is on display at the NIU Art Museum.

This show will be held in the Rotunda and South Galleries of the NIU Art Museum through Saturday, Nov. 15. A public reception will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, directly followed by a lecture by visiting artist Mariette Pathy Allen.

Exploring expressions of the sex/gender continuum in the arts, the artwork on view poses questions about how we see ourselves or how others perceive us, in addition to recognizing the broad spectrum of gender identity.

For example, photographer Allen has been documenting the transgender community for more than 35 years. During this period, she has been welcomed into the lives of many as she has captured their transitions from who they once were into physically becoming the people they find themselves to be on the inside. Her photographs are intimate and humane – they gently challenge traditional notions of gender, sexuality and beauty.

In terms of addressing how we see ourselves or how others see us, Hana Pesut’s Switcheroo series sheds light on these perceptions by capturing a simple sociological experiment.

By asking couples who pose for her to exchange clothing and posture, Pesut masterminds a gender “switcheroo” between these couples that is subtle – sometimes comical – but always intended to question our notion of what it is to be masculine or feminine.

A phogtograph from Hana Pesut’s “Switcheroo” series
A phogtograph from Hana Pesut’s “Switcheroo” series

Other exhibiting artists are Bren Ahearn, Kelli Connell, Paul D’Amato, Sean Fader, Jennifer Greenberg, Bill Harrison, Libby Rowe and Michelle Sank.

Located on the west-end first floor of Altgeld Hall, the galleries are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment for group tours.

Exhibitions and lectures are free; donations are appreciated.

Pay parking is available in the visitor’s lot on Carroll Avenue and at metered spots in front of Altgeld Hall. Free parking is available Saturdays and during receptions and visiting artist lectures in the lot northeast of Gilbert and College Drives.

The exhibition is sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; the Friends of the NIU Art Museum; and the Dean’s Circle of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, NIU Foundation. Additional support came from the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and the divisions of Women’s Studies and Gender Studies at NIU.

Call (815) 753-1936 for more information.

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