Weatherspoon Museum: Human Form as Art

Gabrielle Lowery
Staff Writer 

From March 9 through October 20, the Weatherspoon Museum will be holding an exhibition on the second floor in the Gregory D. Ivy Gallery and Weatherspoon Guild Gallery. The exhibit entitled ‘Here We Are: Painting and Sculpting the Human Form’ is a collection of pieces portraying the human body with a variety of artistic approaches. 

Stepping into the exhibit, you immediately feel eyes on you. Each wall has a piece depicting parts of the human body. The vivid colors attract the attention of visitors, especially one of the more popular pieces, ‘Soundsuit’ by Nick Cave. 

‘Soundsuit’ is composed of Fabric, sequins, beads, ceramic bird figures, ceramic flowers and other effects covering a mannequin.

According to, “Nick Cave’s ‘Soundsuits’ originated as metaphorical suits of armor in response to the Rodney King beatings, and have evolved into vehicles for empowerment. Fully concealing the body, the ‘Soundsuits’ serve as an alien second skin that obscures race, gender and class, allowing viewers to look without bias towards the wearer’s identity.”

Nick Cave states, “I’m a black male. The moment I step outside of the privacy of my space, I am viewed differently.”

Along with Cave’s art, other pieces within the exhibit illustrate the human form as a metaphorical context. The extraordinary artwork is shaped by experiences, identity, sexuality and history. 

According to the Curator of exhibitions, Dr. Emily Stamey, “the artworks collectively underscore the complexity and diversity of lived experience. At the same time, they remind us of the shared nature of our humanity across time and context.”

The exhibit also features work from well-known artist Andy Warhol. Warhol depicts Mao Zedong, former chairman of the people’s Republic of China, in his piece ‘Mao, 1973.’ 

Andy Warhol was one of the leading artists during the 1960s. His piece ‘Mao,1973’ consists of  two of the ten screenprint pieces he created illustrating the Chinese communist leader. Warhol has objectively presented Mao, using an array of colors and distorting the face, leaving the visitors to interpret his work.

According to Guy Hepner, “although Warhol never openly stated his political views, Mao can be said to constitute his first political portrait. While his previous works had a focus on denunciating the relentless consumerism of American capitalist society and the advertising machination surrounding it, this particular work comments on the controlled propaganda apparatus of Chinese communism.”

When visiting the Gallery you may start to compare yourself or society to many of the pieces. The artists have skillfully incorporated the representations of the human form within their work, this includes, the projected attitudes society has created regarding race, gender, social oppression, all while keeping in mind the period.

Although many of the pieces were created decades ago, much of their artwork still applies to our socially constructed society. The artwork captures our world depicting political leaders, masculinity versus femininity, heroism, power and much more.

The fascinating part of the exhibit is what occurs inside the minds of visitors. The subliminal messages that lie behind the artwork are transferred to each visitor. With concern and concentration on the abstract work featuring, distortion, symbolism and a plethora of artistic approaches. Each piece causes visitors to think of the meaning behind the colors, materials, texture and the structure of the designs.

The exhibit will be available for the next two weeks and is open to the public. The exhibit is worthwhile, so be sure to stop by. 

Categories: Features

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