North Central College presents the two-person, student exhibit, featuring paintings, digital prints and drawings by senior Grace Morris and junior Etienne Wenk through March 31.
Titled “Embracing Womanhood: Recontextualizing the Pinup as an Icon for the Exploration of Intersectional Femininity,” the free exhibit is on display in the College’s Meiley-Swallow Hall Gallery, 31 S. Ellsworth St. An artist’s reception will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10, in the gallery; light refreshments will be served.
Morris’ and Wenk’s work is a collection of pinups that embrace the traditional art form while deviating from the conventional subject matter and medium. In the 1940s, the word ‘pinup’ was attributed to images of female actresses and models and depicted idealized versions of what beautiful or attractive women should be like. Morris and Wenk use a mixture of ages, races, body types, gender nonconforming models and unexpected imagery to challenge what kinds of beauty are perceived as “acceptable.”
Morris, of Wausau, Wis., is majoring in studio art with a minor in gender and women studies. Drawing people has always been her first love. “I think the human body is the most beautiful and expressive subject,” she says. Early in her college career, Morris made an unsettling discovery when she realized she was almost exclusively drawing young white women. Since then, she has been intentional in studying bodies outside her personal experience and representing them in her artwork—for her sake and for those who don’t see their bodies represented in art.
Wenk, of Naperville, is majoring in studio art. She believes healthy self-confidence and individuality are two of the most important things about being a human. “I am a strong believer that every person has their own unique needs that might go against the grain,” says Wenk. With her artwork, she wanted to showcase women who are confident in their decisions and their own skin—women who are unapologetic for being who they truly are. Wenk turns pinups from something for men and other voyeuristic viewers into a platform for women to proudly show off their own kind of “perfect.”
Art students at North Central College learn traditional and contemporary media, to communicate ideas visually, and engage in analytical, critical and abstract thinking. Students attend gallery and museum openings and exhibits in Naperville and Chicago, meet visiting artists, enter juried exhibitions and gain an academic foundation for graduate study in studio art, art education, art history, art therapy, arts administration, art criticism and visual communications. Visit northcentralcollege.edu/majors/art to learn more about North Central’s art program.
By Stephanie Snyder ’15/M ’17