Altering the sexes

Altered Esthetics’ “Gender” exhibit explores different connotations of masculinity and femininity.

Megan Frauenhoffers piece Birds Nest Pink explores the use of a typically female color. PHOTO COURTESY MEGAN FRAUENHOFFER/ALTERED ESTHETICS

Megan Frauenhoffer’s piece “Bird’s Nest Pink” explores the use of a typically female color. PHOTO COURTESY MEGAN FRAUENHOFFER/ALTERED ESTHETICS

by Mark Brenden

WHAT: âÄúGenderâÄù WHERE: Altered Esthetics, 1224 Quincy St. N.E., Mpls. WHEN: March 4 âÄì 27, Artists discussion March 20, 1 p.m. âÄì 3 p.m. Sex-U-Mah doesn’t have to be a motto that solely investigates the âÄúidâÄù-iotic tendencies of our campus. Some people are interested in the more, you know, academic connation of the term âÄî people like those who hang around the industrial Northeast Minneapolis art space Altered Esthetics. Their controversial new exhibit, aptly titled âÄúGender,âÄù covers the creative aspects of the male, female, transgender and genderqueer. The submission guidelines were ambiguous âÄî explore the creative manifestations of gender âÄî so as to generate a gamut of interpretation, but there were some common denominators. âÄúA lot of the pieces have to do with trying to put a label on masculine vs. feminine,âÄù intern curator and contributing artist Heidi Lear said. The anti-gender school of thought rejects assigned gender roles, but some of the artists wanted to go in the opposite direction by exploring the conventional meanings of each sex. As contributing artist Erika Tenjack put it, âÄúThe second-wave feminists were totally anti-gender, but I think our generation is trying to reclaim the craft and historical contributions of the female gender.âÄù The artists did find a consensus in the idea that most people elude complete gender definition. âÄúThat’s why it was important to have this show, because [gender stereotypes] still place people in a box. I think we need to step away from labeling people,âÄù Exhibitions Director Kristin Thompson said Tenjack channeled those feelings into several striking pieces, one of which is a sculpture of a buffalo, stereotypically a masculine animal, on which she attaches a very feminine body. âÄúMy interest is in the uncanny gray zones between genders,âÄù Tenjack said. Gallery director intern and contributing artist Kate Johnson’s piece challenges precisely what beauty is. She cut out traditionally attractive models from the makeup ads in fashion magazines and made a collage. To her, it turned out ugly âÄî the idea being that too much beauty can yield opposite results. Feature artist Megan Frauenhoffer takes on the feminine expectations that surround the color pink by making the color appear more ruggedly vivacious in her piece âÄúBirdsnest (pink).âÄù In Thompson’s display, the audacious artist admonishes the woes of tampon use and women letting men do work for them. Speaking of men, there are, intriguingly, only two male artists on the list of exhibitors. âÄúIt might be [that men] have an aversion to [this subject], because there is an emphasis on females being interested in it,âÄù Frauenhoffer said. âÄúPeople may not be as accepting to male artists in this kind of form. It’s partly up to the females then to reach out to the males to achieve that sensitivity in themselves,âÄù Thompson said. To aid that cause, Altered Esthetics is going to do a penis/vagina monologue (now a dialogue?) at their artist discussion March 20. If they succeed in this penis monologue experiment, maybe more men will sign up next time around.