KSU Downtown Gallery to explore gender identity through jewelry

Charlie wearing Sherry Simms, Compact Lipstick: Rose, copper, enamel paint, sterling, lipstick, 2004.

Alexandra Sobczak

“Jewelry and Gender: Challenging the Norms,” the newest exhibition at the KSU Downtown Gallery, will challenge the gender binary and explore gender identities through jewelry art.

The opening reception is scheduled for Nov. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the KSU Downtown Gallery as a part of Kent’s First Friday Art Walk. The exhibition will remain open through Dec. 1.

“A lot of people, even before they’re born, they kind of have these expectations of what they should act like … and if they’re a boy or a girl, or a man or a woman,” said Roza Maille, the curator of the exhibition and the marketing assistant for the School of Art. “I wanted to shed light on (trans and non-binary) people. … I just wanted to show people that the world’s not so black and white — binary — through this exhibition.”

The exhibition will feature photographs of 12 LGBTQ community member volunteers modeling the pieces. Also on display will be quotes from the models’ life experiences. The models are 10 current students and two alumni.

“I have these quotes from the interviews with the models,” Maille said. “I think (the exhibition is) unique in that it’s focusing on the models equally as much as it’s focusing on the artwork.”

All the pieces in the exhibition were created independently from the theme before the exhibition was planned. Some were not created to be related to gender identity, and they were later chosen by Maille to apply to the theme.

“A lot of the exhibition really is about the person who wears the jewelry and how it interacts with their gender identity,” Maille said.

Eleven artists, both local and national, will have pieces on display. Andrew Kuebeck, the assistant professor for Kent State’s School of Art, will be featured, as will School of Art alumni Nikki Couppee and Rachel Smith, along with graduate student Erica Hoosic.

Other artists include Tanya Crane, Aurélie Guillaume, Younha Jung, Amy Klainer, Matt Lambert, Marissa Saneholtz, Sherry Simms and Rachel Smith.

Maille will be collecting money for Kent State’s LGBTQ Emergency Fund.

Alexandra Sobczak is the arts and architecture reporter. Contact her at [email protected].