Visual Art Exchange, Raleigh
Before you even enter Feminine Spectrum at VAE, you contribute to it.
At the door, Stacey L. Kirby presents you with a "Gender Spectrum Form" on which you make an X somewhere along a dotted line between feminine and masculine end points. It's an apt, inclusive entry point for what amounts to a very personal show.
In her curatorial debut, Kirby brings together work by sixteen artists who have played a role in her growth as a queer, white, female Southern artist. Connect the dots—from Ann Kalmbach and Tatana Kellner at the Women's Studio Workshop in Kingston, New York, where Kirby interned, to Durham musicians Christy Jean Smith and Heather McEntire, who brought Kirby into local creative communities through collaboration and friendship—and you get a map of the artist's development. The work includes tantalizing sculptures from Harriet Hoover, stunning video by Ellie Ga, collages by elin o'Hara slavick, and a rocking chair covered with pointe shoes by Daniel B. Coleman.
This idea might seem insular, but once you fill out your form, you're part of it, and that's Kirby's point: artists outside the straight white mainstream (especially in the South) must wander widely to construct communities. More than Kirby's personal narrative, Feminine Spectrum is a template for how to build networks of influence and inspiration—the kinds that shape old institutions and start new ones.
VAE, one such institution, is hosting some terrific programming around the show, including a can't-miss performance evening on May 10 with Hoover, Coleman, Susan Harbage Page, and Marie Garlock, as well as a May 18 appearance by LUEWWD (League of Upper Extremity Wrestling Women Durham) and a May 24 drag brunch.