There were some pretty awesome art exhibitions this past Thursday at the student art gallery, but the one that was very interesting to me was the one displayed in the Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery. Can sex be considered an art? I have thought about this before, and the artists Kaclica Chhin and Amanda Ruiz answer this question through their art. Because of the nature of their art exhibition, there was a sign posted on the gallery door warning visitors to beware of the art displayed in the gallery, for it may be offensive. Seeing this sign caught my attention and curiosity so I entered the gallery and saw various illustrations and sculptures relating to sex and the human body, particularly the private areas of both men and women. Some illustrations depicted women masturbating, receiving and giving oral sex, couches covered with bras and underwear, and how anatomy and emotions are affected during sex. At the back of the sculpture detailed with genitalia, butts, and breasts, there was a strange, black box with legs and holes on them (which to me, resembled a box used by magicians to perform tricks) and one could stick his/her hand inside the holes. I did not stick my hand in there, haha, but many of my classmates did, and many of them giggled or exclaimed “Oh my God, what is that?” Upon asking my classmates, I learned that the box contained a head, a breast, a hand, and a foot, all made out of silicon.
The art exhibition was entitled “Curiosity killed the cat and SATISFACTION brought it back,” which greatly emphasizes the word “satisfaction” and has a comical tone, at least to me it does. After I was done observing the art, I had the opportunity to speak with the artists and ask them a few questions about their interesting art. According to the artists, their curiosity about sex inspired their art work and Amanda focused more on one’s mental state during sex whereas Kaclica focused more on the physical. According to the artists, they tried to send a message that sex is not all about inserting the penis into the vagina, but that there is more to it, such as one’s state of mind and emotions. While chatting with the artists, I learned that it took about four days to set up their show and about three weeks to create the enormous sculpture composed of genitalia, buts, and breasts. What surprised me the most was that the sculptor, Kaclica, sculpted the contents of the sculpture visually; Kaclica had her friends and family members model while she sculpted their body parts. What was funny to me was that Kaclica admitted that it was awkward at first and that the her family and friends seemed to not be that enthusiastic about it haha, although they of course volunteered.
The artists are aware that the topic of their art can make many people uncomfortable but a purpose for their exhibition was to show/discuss what many people try to push away: sexuality and the human body; an aim for the exhibition was to encourage people to be more open about the human body and sexuality and to not be embarrassed about it. I myself was not sure how to feel; I felt uneasy yet relaxed at the same time! Kaclica Chhin created the sculptures present in the exhibition and she is majoring in Sculpture, BFA, whereas Amanda created the illustrations of the art exhibition and she is majoring in Illustration, BFA. It was interesting to learn that the artists themselves were not at first comfortable with talking about sex and the human body but that they became comfortable by talking about it. The artists said that their families seemed to show no signs of disapproval once they saw their art exhibition, but that their younger relatives were of course not allowed to go in. The artists noticed that many people read their sign posted on the door and walked away; it is obvious that this topic is indeed offensive to many, although sex and the human body are completely natural. To be candid, I myself feel timid when it comes to these topics, but maybe someday I will learn to talk about them openly and without a hint of embarrassment. This was definitely and interesting week at the student art gallery and it was awesome to have had the opportunity to see Kaclica’s and Amanda’s art exhibition. It is a topic that makes many uncomfortable but we are at a university, and talking about/viewing controversial and offensive topics is what we should be doing. It was an interesting exhibition and it was a pleasure speaking with the artists.