Cliteracy on Campus

Volunteer Writer: JJ Galindo

Email: jgalindo1@umassd.edu

On September 13th, Sophia Wallace opened “Cliteracy: The Art of Intimate Justice,” a new art exhibit in the CVPA gallery, located on the building’s first floor.

In the exhibit, which runs until November 4th, women’s reproductive parts are presented in sculptures, paintings, and poetry. The exhibit follows the recent end of the federal right to safe abortions, through the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Sophia Wallace, the artist behind it all, is from New York City and is well known for her conceptual art and photography.

(https://www.umassd.edu/cvpa/galleries/campus-gallery/exhibitions/2022/sophia-wallace.html)

The exhibit features inflatable, ceramic, and metal clitoric sculptures, as well as patterned textiles, massive text murals, and neon lights.

A short documentary on Sophia Wallace’s work and social issues that focus on gender equality is also featured at the end of the exhibit called, “Until She is Free”. It was created by Maria Finitzo to expose the viewer to what issues women face in society and what can be done to even the playing field between the sexes.

Lily McGuirk, a curator of the art gallery, says that she “feel[s] proud of the exhibit, being a woman” and that “art can be up for interpretation… and [the wall of quotes] has so much vital information on it that amplifies the amount of awareness created by [the exhibit].”

The curator hopes to bring awareness to students by discussing sex and bodily autonomy and teaching them not to fear the human body.

The idea of “Cliteracy” also teaches the viewer how generations of hiding and fearing the clitoris have allowed for sexual violence, mutilation, and removal of reproductive rights.

Aidan Theobald, a freshman at UMass Dartmouth, said that the exhibit made him feel “a little uncomfortable being in the exhibit… it’s not what I’m used to.” This is the exact reaction that the artist hoped to invoke.

Putting people into an uncomfortable situation seems to be the intent of this art, as CVPA student Quinn Brophy put it, “It’s not taboo to talk about penises… it is often the butt of jokes but once the menstrual cycle is mentioned or giving birth, it’s looked at as a very gross subject… on the other hand a woman is looked at as an object of desire.”

The point of view from both male and female students varies greatly, but it goes to show how much can still be learned about sensitive topics.

“There is a lack of education around it as it is seen as a touchy subject”, said Quinn, emphasizing the need for awareness and de-sensitivity to the topic.

Sophia Wallace will be giving a lecture in the UMass Dartmouth Library’s Grand Reading Room on October 25th to talk about her exhibit and it will remain on display until November 4th.

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