Art Provokes Thought About Chauvinism in the Workplace

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Cathryn Sugg artwork

By Eleni Parashos

Amidst the quilt made of thongs and portraits of bare-breasted women, the attendees of The Fine Arts Gallery’s latest exhibition “Chauvinism at Work: Role Evolution” at the College of Southern Nevada are not shocked by what they see, but instead by what they read.

During the opening of her exhibition on Oct. 11, 2013 artist and University of Nevada, Las Vegas Alum Cathryn Sugg presented 15 pieces that comment on the dual perspective of the modern woman: sex object and working woman.

Six of these pieces are portraits of real women; they are nude except for parts of their work uniform—a uniform traditionally worn by a man. Each woman was interviewed by Sugg and their responses are etched in the portraits as embroidered statements and personal stories.

Jeff Fulmer, CSN’s senior specialist in the Department of Fine Arts, explains why Sugg’s work was chosen for exhibition in the gallery.

“Sugg’s artwork is beautiful and entertaining, but, for our students it offers them an opportunity to open their minds and to reflect on both contemporary and historical ideas of gender equality,” Fulmer said.

Another series of artwork accompanies the portraits in the exhibition. Focusing on the female identity and the evolution of the female role, these pieces include the aforementioned quilt constructed out of women’s thong underwear and a set of boxes that contain embroideries of familiar nursery rhymes juxtaposed against statements of feministic text.

Caroline Vaughn, a CSN student majoring in engineering, attended the exhibition’s opening October 11. “I think every woman has their own shocking embroidered story about working in a male dominated field,” Vaughn said. “I know I do.”

One such story is stitched on the portrait titled “Roles Behind the Rules”. On it, embroidery tells the story of a female police officer’s first day on the job and the subsequent harassment that followed as her male co-worker and fellow officer propositioned her for a kiss.

“Work like this furthers the discussion of gender equality,” Vaughn said. “It’s a discussion, I’m sad to say, we still need to have in 2013.”

“The work was motivated by personal experience,” Sugg said. “Although being a female artist isn’t ‘non-traditional’ per se, many of the unprofessional comments individuals said to me … led to inquiry about what other women experienced in their respective professions.”

“Chauvinism at Work: Role Evolution?” is now on display at The Fine Arts Gallery at CSN’s Cheyenne campus and will run thru December 6.Eleni 1

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