The Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show has reached a major milestone.
The exhibition — on display through July 11 at the Grunwald Gallery — marks its 10th year with a lively mix of artwork about sexuality, gender, relationships, reproduction, eroticism and the human figure.
“This is the best Kinsey juried show yet,” said Betsy Stirratt, director of the gallery and one of the jurors. “I am so pleased to see that the entries have become more thoughtful and thought-provoking than ever.”
It all began in 2006 as The Kinsey Institute Juried Erotic Art Show. Over time, the annual event has expanded to include more artwork and more themes relating to the mission of The Kinsey Institute. At first confined to an intimate setting within the Kinsey space at Morrison Hall, the show moved to the expansive gallery inside the Fine Arts Building in 2009.
A rich mix
The 2015 edition of the show offers a rich mix of media and viewpoints, thanks to the Kinsey curator Catherine Johnson-Roehr, associate curator Garry Milius, and at the Grunwald, Stirratt and Jeremy Sweet, technical advisor and associate director.
In addition to photography, paintings and prints, there are ceramics, multimedia installations, readymade objects, sculptures and more.
Outside the gallery, a sign alerts visitors: “Please be aware that works in this exhibit contain nudity and sexual situations.”
Those who venture beyond the frosted doors will see that artists from around the country — and one from the Netherlands — have responded astutely to the exhibit themes. Some pieces make bold statements, while others display nuance, wit and whimsy.
A common thread
This year, both the Best in Show and Curators’ Choice and prizes have been awarded to fiber pieces.
Jennifer Hart of Lexington, Kentucky, received the top honor for “Self Portrait With J.” As her website states, her creations are “not your grandma’s quilts. Her art is about transformation; She turns pornography into “humanized” nude figures, and fabricates the images from discarded thrift-shop clothes.
“I think the ‘Self Portrait with J’ is both a personal statement and a continuation of my dialogue on pornography,” she said.
Aric Verrastro’s “Teammate Series” won the Curators’ Choice. The Bloomington artist, who graduated from IU this month with MFA in metalsmithing and jewelry design, often incorporates textiles and textile techniques into his work. Here he has reimagined football shoulderpads in satin and lace, embellished with false eyelashes and acrylic nails. In a passage on his website, Verrastro explained that he has referenced protective gear from a very traditional, masculine pastime and made it overtly feminine.
“As a gay man, I constantly have to be conscious of my masculinity and its perception in social settings, even within gay culture,” he said.
Other artists also have chosen to address relationships and sexual themes through traditional forms of textiles. Among them, Kathryn Shinko has embroidered racy text messages in her “Dirty Sampler Series” and Bren Ahearn has employed cross-stitch in her “Sampler #13” to list milestones and ask: “When Will I Ever Learn?”
The opening night crowd at the exhibition selected the third show award, the Gallery Visitors’ Choice, which went to a giant wood sculpture by Melanie Cooper Pennington of Bloomington. She is a current MFA student at IU who will be teaching an introductory ceramics course in the fall. “I am interested in mining the figure in all of its parts,” Pennington said about her work.
“I feel that getting the People’s Choice award is appropriate for the sort of art that I try to make. I tend towards what-does-it-mean-to-be-human sorts of themes that I hope will inspire viewers to interact with the pieces.”
To see the show
The Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show 2015 remains on display at the Grunwald Gallery through July 11. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.