Letting Go Of Barbie
It has been said that to be a woman is to have body issues. It was that questionable premise that launched artist Susan Singer’s latest gallery show and project.
The show, currently at Crossroads Gallery, is called “Not Barbie: A Celebration of Real Women.” Taking on the culture’s version of the perfect woman as exemplified by the Barbie doll, Singer has created an array of canvasses that document real women’s bodies, not all tall and slender as the media might have us believe.
Out of that show grew another project, “Beyond Barbie: Piecing Together Today’s Woman,” a series of performances and lectures about issues important to today’s women.
“In thinking about who my models have been, it occurred to me that the vast majority of them are talented, gifted, passionate women who are leaders in their fields,” says Singer.
“I thought about the possibility of showcasing them in a performance series during the run of the show. Fortunately, Jenni Kirby, the owner of Crossroads Art Center, is a “yes” person – she says “yes” first, then figures out how to do something – so the location was easily found. When I spoke with my models about the possibility, virtually every one of them said yes, they wanted to be involved. Everything happened with such ease that I felt like it was meant to be.”
The topics for the evenings arose organically based on the passions and interests and talents of Singer’s models: Dance, Body Modification, the Blues, Eating Disorders, Intimate Partner Abuse, Birth, and Storytelling in the First Person.
There was one topic that was impossible to find a speaker for, however. “I wanted to do an evening on Finding Balance in our Lives, but, ironically, I wasn’t able to find anyone who felt she was qualified to lead that night! I think that says a lot about our society!”
The five events held so far have been well attended, with between 40 and 95 people a night. There are two more evenings to go, an Oct. 27 session on Birth, and a Nov. 3 one focusing on stories written in the first person.
Singer acknowledges that “Beyond Barbie” is important to her as an extension of the work she’s been doing with women’s body images, which first came through in her paintings.
“I began painting and drawing female nudes as a way to heal my own body image issues, then those of my models, and ultimately, perhaps, hopefully, those of all who look at my work. My paintings are about empowered, powerful, courageous women.
The series, Beyond Barbie, showcases such women and gives the audience the opportunity to see amazing women in action. I believe that the people who come to our evenings come away having been entertained, informed, and perhaps inspired to follow their own passion and pass on their own unique gifts to others.
Will Singer’s crusade to help women of all sizes, shapes and ages better accept their body images end with this project? Listening to her passion for the results she’s seen so far, it seems unlikely.
“Whatever vehicles I can find to facilitate such empowerment, I will use! ‘Beyond Barbie’ has proven to be a very powerful modality for that.”
It’s all about women moving beyond the Barbie myth one body at a time.
Beyond Barbie is at Crossroads Art Center, 2016 Staples Mill Road. For more information on the exhibit and performance schedule, click here. Art by Susan Singer.
Karen Newton is a freelance writer and full-time nerd who isn’t happy unless she’s going out every night for food, music or art and blogging it at www.icouldgoonandon.blogspot.com.
Headline image by Jakrit Patchimanon Robyn Dean grew up in a male body, but always felt as though her body didn’t match who she was inside. In 2005, she made a change that would not only improve, but would save her life. “I am my authentic self, I’m lining up my physical appearance to who [...]December 30, 2013
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