The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

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Unveiling Herstory: Celebrating Women’s Lives and Work in Art

Kennedey Clark
Artist, Jean-Marie Salem (left) explains her sculpture to her friends who surprised her at the gallery presentation. Salem’s work revolves around her race and she implements balance and illusions into her sculptures.

Simpson College’s Gallery of Art Design unveiled an art exhibition on Thursday, Feb. 29, showcasing the multifaceted art of “Women’s Lives and Women’s Work.” With a rich array of artistic expressions and mediums, the gallery presentation offered a compelling exploration of the roles, challenges, and triumphs experienced by women across diverse backgrounds and cultures.

In honor of Women’s History Month, the head of the graphic design department, Justin Nostrala, asked Mary Jones to curate an exhibit at Simpson’s Gallery. About 50 Simpson students and faculty,  friends and family joined to hear a presentation from the artists: Kim Hutchison, Jami Milne, Jean-Marie Salem and Alyssa Tauber.

The artists were several women  Jones knows, respects and loves. Originally from Pennsylvania, Jones built her career as an artist and illustrator in Chicago and also taught at Grand View University in Des Moines.

Several of Jones’ paintings are exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and state museums in Illinois. At the gallery, Jones introduced the artists and posed a specific question for each woman based on their art, of which they shared their experiences and insights.

“Looking at art or listening to music, going to a play, and experiencing the arts makes you think, and it makes you ask questions,” Jones said. “Liberal arts institutions are in the business of encouraging people to think critically, and I think the arts is a great way to ask questions.”

The presentation began with Alyssa Tauber, an artist in the Des Moines area, whose work has been shown around the U.S. and internationally. Her work explores her relationship with the environment. In the “Women’s Lives and Women’s Work exhibit,” most of her artwork consisted of collagraphs that depicted domestic objects as one would see in a home. Tauber described the collagraph printing method as meticulous and precise.

“I used a gel medium and buffed it into the silk to seal it down. In order to get the different textures and gradients, I then go and mix the gel medium with water, and I paint it on with a brush,” she said. “I can take the brush and blot, and it allows for a different texture than some other forms of printmaking, which are more flat.”

Another artist, Jami Milne, showcased her ceramic pieces, including a pile of porcelain peanuts. In a piece titled “Feeding ourselves the wrong memories for survival,” a display of 10.5 pounds of peanuts, shows how we hold onto memories and the past.

In the description near the sculpture, she said, “I explore the idea of examining what memories we’re holding onto, determining whether they’re aiding in our forward movement and familial survival or instead, further confining us in our own cycles of emotional captivity.”

Jami spoke to the audience about her art journey and how she worked with others in an art project centered around how COVID-19 impacted one another using porcelain armadillos, leading her to explore ceramics as a medium.

Jean-Marie Salem, a Simpson alum from West Des Moines, displayed sculptures that symbolized otherness, difference, and maintaining individuality.

Her sculptures are composed of several different materials, such as driftwood, aluminum, fishing string and rocks. She mentioned that balance is a key concept in her works and her work reflects her race.

“I’ve always felt I do not quite fit in anywhere,” Salem described in her art brief.  “I just keep thinking ‘black, black, black girl, Hybrid, Black American Girl.’ To me, hybrid is a definition of self, always defined by otherness. I am just me, going back and forth between races and the lines society has built.”

The exhibit is an exemplary product that does a standout job representing the female experience during Women’s History Month. Their work will be displayed in Simpson’s Gallery of Art Design until March 29.

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Kennedey Clark, Staff Reporter

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