An art exhibit titled “Masculinity: Art from Dark to Light” featuring student-submitted paintings, graphic design art, sculptures, poetry and photography is on display in the Walter F. Dexter (building 34) University Art Gallery until May 25.
An opening reception was held May 22. The gallery, hosted by the Men and Masculinity program, seeks to capture a broad range of experiences, expressions and perceptions of masculinity.
According to the Men and Masculinity program coordinator Nick Bilich, the program’s purpose is to promote and cultivate healthy models of masculinity. He said his hope is for the art exhibit to be a space for attendees to step into the artists’ experiences surrounding masculinity.
“We all create and uphold how masculinity is experienced and understood,” Bilich said. “Our hope is that people join in that reflective experience.”
Although the exhibit focuses on masculinity, not all featured artists identify as men. Psychology junior Winston Chang, one of the Men and Masculinity student assistants tasked with curating the gallery, said he believes these voices are essential to the exhibit and its theme.
“I think masculinity is something everyone can talk about. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has been affected,” Chang said. “For example, the biggest ticket item that comes to mind is sexual assault. That’s obviously a topic that mainly affects non-men.”
According to a 2014 study by the White House Council on Women and Girls, 98 percent of female and 93 percent of male sexual assault survivors report their assailants being men. Recently, Cal Poly Title IX investigations, allegations of a professor’s sexual misconduct and the arrest of a man who attempted to sexually assault a student have brought sexual assault to the forefront of campus discourse.
“Hopefully for some people, [the exhibit] can set a precedent on evaluating their idea of masculinity and moving towards healthy models of masculinity,” Bilich said.
Chang said an important goal for the exhibit and the Men and Masculinity program is to analyze and question the status quo of masculinity.
“One of the main points of this art gallery is to start conversations,” Chang said. “Are things the way they are because that’s the reality or could these be different? I think things could be different and could be better.”