By Alexandra Cochran
Blog Content Contributor
From childhood, our gender expectations begin to shape around the age of three or four years old. Genetics may have a significant amount of purpose as to who we are, but influencers shape us into these societal norms that force us to mold into an acceptable and appropriate gender.
Social media had once again led me to an event with not only free food, but also a chance to view and support art. Texas State Galleries’ Instagram, @txstgalleries, posted a promotion for the fall 2016 BFA Thesis Exhibition, and I instantly scurried over to campus to check it out. There, I stumbled upon an installation of photographs that perceived to focus on the active affects of gender conformity in our western culture.
Rian Allen, an alumna from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a concentration in photography, recently brought her interest in photography and gender issues together. The topic and significance of her photos came from conversations she’s had with “both gender diverse individuals and LGBTQIA organizations, as well as those who haven’t really thought of themselves as gendered beings.” These photos were of objects she believes “are not intended for use by any specific gender, but are instead used to reinforce a person’s idea of his or herself.”
As a transfer student, I came to this campus highly interested in any opportunity to meet other people who are actively doing things they’re passionate about. I started a personal blog over a year ago writing about social issues I thought needed to be addressed on my platform. When I realized it was fun to write, I ended up pursuing it officially with KTSW on campus. I really appreciate artists like Allen who use their constructive ideas to portray matters that should be expressed through all mediums. Not only did her photographs demonstrate clarity and professionalism within a minimalistic approach, but her work also inspired an open dialogue with peers around her installation along with my internal conscious. Discovering new open-minded individuals like Allen benefits society in these ways of absorbing more information and awareness from each other.
In short, these objects are truly designed for every being’s needs, but are now finding ways to be packaged in hopes of attracting a particular gender. They’re intended to market certain humans and influence consumption based on the simple color or design of its packaging. Although the exhibit is now closed, you can view her work on her website.
Featured image by Rian Allen from her series, “Falling Out of Line”.