“Outside Us,” the first of Marlborough’s two annual guest art shows, opened Monday, Aug. 26, the first day of school. The show was curated by Arezoo Bharthania and features art from Bhartania herself along with artists Dawn Ertl, Kimberly Morris and Diane Williams.
“We are so happy to be showing our work in this school and hope the girls will enjoy the show,” Bhartania said.
As evidenced by its title, the show centers around the themes of identity and “otherness.” The show’s mission statement says that the featured artists, all of whom are women of color, have come to recognize that their identity is “manufactured through the filter of Western Culture.” Thus, the art “examines the pressure imposed onto them to conform to societal norms such as the Western obsession [with] the ideal female.”
This idea of forced conformity is represented in the show through the incorporation of items such as body casts or weavings meant to symbolize traditionally female daily routines.
Furthermore, to represent the idea of deconstructing cultural stereotypes of gender and sexuality, the artists manipulated recycled materials in their work to represent “loosely woven, fluid, and mutable identity.”
Marlborough Visual Arts Department Head Chelsea Dean said she was compelled by a lot of the issues that the artists in the show are presenting and that the department had many reasons for choosing “Outside Us” as this year’s first guest art show.
She notes that the concept of conveying “otherness” through art was especially compelling, specifically as it applies to race.
“We definitely have a huge population of students at our school that I think would connect with that feeling or idea and maybe they don’t even know how to address it or what that would look like through the voice of an artist,” Dean said. “I think it’s really interesting to see not only how they address it but specifically the the materials that they’re using and how it’s presented.”
No matter what the artwork means to the students, Dean feels that “Outside Us” succeeds in displaying artwork that may be unfamiliar and therefore educational for students.
“Mostly our goal as a department is to present students with things they wouldn’t normally see in a school setting,” Dean said. “We also strive to find voices and artists that we think are not only relevant for the students, but that we also think they would be really inspired by.”