SHAPESHIFTING: Contemporary Masculinities


OPENING RECEPTION: October 16, 2014, 6:30pm-8:00pm

This exhibition brings together ten emerging and established artists who question, reframe, and explore perceptions and anxieties about evolving masculinities in the 21st century. The exhibition is intended to raise—but not necessarily answer—questions about the relevance of the historical male role model, contemporary ideas about gender construction, and the purpose of fraternity.

Scholarship on gender and sexuality began with the emergence of feminist studies in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that masculinity studies came into its own. There have been a number of exhibitions exploring this topic—many of which took place in the UK, Europe, and Canada—with most using an overarching theme through which to discuss masculinity. For example, two important 2009 exhibitions, Hard Targets and Mixed Signals: Artists Consider Masculinity in Sports, used sport as a lens through which artists explored the performance of gender and homosociality, or men proving themselves to other men in a sporting context.

IMG_1891SHAPESHIFTING, however, intentionally eschews an overarching theme—hence the title—to better reflect the ambiguities, anxieties, and possibilities facing men in America.

The ten artists in SHAPESHIFTING can be loosely placed into three categories—evolving cultural terrain, gender normative behavior, and the role of fraternity. In the first grouping, Robyn O’Neil, Alec Soth, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, and Hank Willis Thomas mine different aspects of evolving attitudes toward gender roles. O’Neil’s Hell series signals the end of 20th-century male norms, while Soth’s Broken Manual project investigates the life of the contemporary hermit. Hank Willis Thomas addresses questions specific to African American men, and Greenberger Rafferty melts and morphs iconic male attire. Ideas about the formation and shattering of gender normative behaviors are found in the work of Marcella Hackbardt, Michael Scoggins, Kris Knight, and Weston Ulfig. Hackbardt’s young male dancers are beautiful yet somehow uncomfortable to view, and Scoggins’ oversized marker drawings ask us to remember a youthful self that fantasized about saving the day with larger than life super powers. Kris Knight subverts traditional ideas about the “male gaze,” while Weston Ulfig empowers the stereotype of young boys and guns. Finally, Brooks Dierdorff and Fall On Your Sword consider the role of fraternity through their critique of the actions, repercussions, and value of male bonding forged through sport.
It would not only be impossible, but presumptuous for any one curator or exhibition to speak for all men. Instead, SHAPESHIFTING’s goals are to provoke discussion, and, as Robyn O’Neil suggests, acknowledge that endings, while anxiety producing, are also heralds of new beginnings and opportunities.
Kitty McManus Zurko, Director/Curator
The College of Wooster Art Museum


Thursday, October 16
6:30–8:00 p.m.
Gallery talk at 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, October 29
12:00–1:00 p.m.
Kitty McManus Zurko, CWAM Director/Curator
Light lunch provided.

Thursday, November 6
7:00–8:00 p.m.
Somewhere to Disappear
Ebert Art Center, Rm. 223

Wednesday, November 12
7:00–8:00 p.m.
Faculty: Angie Bos; Students: Bjorn Olson ’15 & James Parker ’15; Staff: Ryan Ozar

 Wooster Art Museum

Museum Hours:

Tuesday – Friday, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.

CLOSED on Monday


Ebert Art Center
1220 Beall Avenue
Wooster, OH 44691
General Information: 330-263-2495
Museum Office: 330-263-2388

The College of Wooster Art Museum is located in the Ebert Art Center off Beall Avenue between Wayne Avenue and University Street.

All exhibitions and events are FREE and open to the public.