Forum and exhibition in Mt. Airy examine the ways gender informs art

 The Gender Weaver Project is a partnership between the Mt. Airy Art Garage and Moore College of Art undergraduates. (Jana Shea/for NewsWorks)

The Gender Weaver Project is a partnership between the Mt. Airy Art Garage and Moore College of Art undergraduates. (Jana Shea/for NewsWorks)

Gender and its relationship to one’s art making is the motif for the latest exhibition, “The Gender Weave Project,” and related panel discussion, “Weaving Equality – Exploring Gender and the Arts” at the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG).

Both are being held in commemoration of Women’s History Month.

Gender is one of the central questions for female artists to explore, says Arlene Olshan, co-founder of MAAG. “How you proclaim yourself in the gender sphere, now that there is a lot of transitioning happening?”

Weaving equality

Olshan will be one of the seven panelists representing a wide range of gender identities.

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Held on International Women’s Day, March 8, the roundtable session will feature conversation about tweaking the notion of gender beyond a binary definition.

Panelists include: Chea Villanueva (writer), Jennifer Turnbill (dancer and choreographer), Lascivious Jane (performance artist), Van Nguyen (performance artist), Kathryn Pannepacker (textile artist), E. Simon Ruchti (professor of women’s and gender studies).

The gender weave project

The ongoing exhibition — a blend of emerging and professional artists — is the first partnership between MAAG and Moore College of Art and Design (MCAD).

Ten undergraduate students and six professional artists (three of whom, including Olshan, are MAAG members) have works in the show. It’s the first public exhibition for the students outside of the college, said MAAG co-founder and president, Linda Slodki.

Another first: MAAG is the recent recipient of a $4,641 grant from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund to cover the show’s operational expenses.

Initially conceived a year ago as only for fabric and fiber arts, the show, like the gender continuum being investigated, evolved to be inclusive.

The concept of weaving, however, remained a constant.

Female artists are intertwined in a larger creative community and need to question how their work fits together, Olshan said. “Does it have a pattern that we need to explore as women?”

The panel discussion Weaving Equality – Exploring Gender and the Arts will be held on Sunday, March 8 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Gender Weave Project runs through Sunday, March. 29 at the Mt. Airy Art Garage, 11 W. Mt. Airy Ave., Philadelphia.

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