What does your butt say?
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
• Controversy in Keene: The Hippo became familiar with Berlin expat Rachelle Beaudoin when she organized an art exhibit and concert focusing on changes in the former paper mill town this summer. The Rhode Island Institute of Design alum is now an adjunct faculty member at Keene State College, where her installation in a faculty exhibit caused a slight stir. “Cheer!Shorts” was inspired by the prevalence of “butt print” garments. “I was thinking about my participation in it ... why I would want someone to look at my butt and my body without looking at my face. Because it’s really just inviting that kind of gaze,” Beaudoin said. She made shorts with explicit messages, rather than the implicit ones normally sold, and wore them around Providence as performance art. She was surprised how little reaction she got. She expected there might be a sense of “control” or even “empowerment,” she said. But she found herself feeling self-conscious because she couldn’t tell if people were looking at her. She referenced the work as part of an exploration of the confusing third wave of feminism. There’s “pressure to be hot, but not too hot,” she said.
Keene State confirmed some people voiced offense while Beaudoin’s shorts and photos were being set up. Beaudoin agreed to cover the display with a curtain so gallery visitors can choose whether or not to view the work. The college was expected to hold a panel discussion about the piece Tuesday, Feb. 5, as a teaching moment. They also held a forum when a student public art installation caused offense last year.
College president Helen Giles-Gee gave a statement: “The First Amendment guarantees freedom of expression. The review of public art further protects the viewer with laws on time, place and manner. I believe that the College has honored both principles by providing a place for art deemed as possibly controversial where individuals can choose either to view or not view the piece.”
Anyway, if you’ve ever wondered why on Earth people want to wear words across their rears, I recommend taking a peek at “Cheer!Shorts” for your own amusement. Beaudoin posted images at risd.digication.com/rachelle/Cheer_Shorts.
• Closer to home and with fewer dirty words: The Wine Studio hosts an opening reception for an exhibit of Bob Ryan’s drawings, Thursday, Feb. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. at 53 Hooksett Road. A second Wine Studio location is opening at at 27 Buttrick Road in Londonderry, where the owners host paintings from a family of Peruvian artists, “Andean Styles-Historic, Traditional, Spiritual.” Check it out during the opening Friday, Feb. 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. Call 622-WINE.
Nature photographer Ron Bowman’s work is at E.W. Poore, 531 Front St. in Manchester, through Feb. 29. Meet him at a reception and gallery talk Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. Call 622-3802. If you want to take pictures of nature yourself, join a guided winter photo hike Saturday, Feb. 9, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Massabesic Audubon Center on Audubon Way in Auburn. Call 668-2045 to reserve space. The fee is $10.50 for nonmembers.
Correction: The watercolor “Perfect Poppy” on page 21 of the Hippo’s Jan. 24-30 issue is by Suzanne Binnie, not Suze Scholls.