Graduating senior Anna VanMilligen had her final BFA show at Calvin’s 106 gallery downtown in collaboration with Stephanie Kang. “THE BEST SHOW EVER!” addressed constructions of femininity propagated by “arts and crafts” supplies, dollar-store kitsch and other familiar objects and images.
THE BEST SHOW EVER!
That likening someone to a middle school girl constitutes an insult is generally understood: the familiar jibe is considered an affront to one’s dignity, intelligence, and overall personal worth. In a world where it’s worse to be a woman, admitting to an affinity for all things frilled and floral, pink and pretty can feel like confessing to an embarrassing predilection. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that my penchant for pastels is neither biologically-determined nor one of the many “regrettable symptoms” of my culturally-perceived gender: I love glitter. I am a girl. But I do not love glitter because I am a girl. Thus convicted, I am compelled to defend that which is traditionally considered “childish” and/or “feminine,” to elevate that which deserves our attention and appreciation rather than our scorn.
Positioned as the polar opposite of masculinity, equated with innocence, inscribed onto women, and deemed inferior, femininity is an archaic yet equally tenacious notion that requires revision. By exploring the use of ornamentation as a means of bestowing value upon dollar store kitsch and thrift shop trinkets, I intend to expose and challenge lingering misconceptions of gender and aesthetics.