Artist: Jane Weibel
Exhibition: Psycho Circle
Media: Plastic, Ropes, Paper, Photography
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery East
About the Artist
Jane Weibel is a CSULB student in her final year with the ceramics program, and is looking to continue her education in grad school. Jane said that she has always been a quiet person, but is trying to make an effort to change that in her last year at Cal State Long Beach. In her artist statement, Jane says that she has always been hesitant to proclaim herself as a feminist because it is a label that has been “interminably stigmatized.” She says that there is a deep cynicism and mistrust within her as she would move through her days without starting conflicts over all of the mistreatment of women that she encounters and is angered by. Jane says that this is all getting pretty old, and that now is the time to proclaim that she is a feminist. The desire to respond to the awful mistreatment of women drives her artistic practice.
The exhibition contains multiple pieces displayed throughout the room, most of them using photographs taken by the artist herself. Upon entering, there is a large stone sitting above a long photograph of a variety of raised hands. Then there are two stacked stones, held up by a blue cord, above a photograph of women’s feet. Towards the right corner of the room is a multiple-piece set with pieces at both ends and one in the middle. On the left side is a smooth but sturdy stone wall with slightly curved edges. A rope lays above the wall and extends to the right side, held up by various long sticks lodged into a small concrete oval that resembled arrows. The ropes hold up a photograph in the middle of a woman, she is clearly sitting next to another woman, both of their faces and lower legs not pictured. This picture lies between a plastic set-up of a fire and a large stone being held up by a red rope. To the left of the first large stone is another stone that has a pillow and a picture of a woman, whose head is not visible, all held together by a blue rope. On a wall in the room lies a pile of pieces of shredded color papers. There are then four columns of pictures of a woman lifting a boulder from the ground, each column of pictures having a different woman lifting the boulder differently. These pictures are held up by a group of yellow tubes. Towards the back middle of the room is a stack of sky blue tubes that are on top of a picture of a barely visible woman. The “main event” of the exhibition is a tall, four-sided house-like wall, coined “the cage,” that is made up of many plastic grate sheets.
The exhibition aims to “explore the ways women are so often spoken over, objectified, dismissed, stereotyped, shamed, cheated, constrained, repressed, overpowered, manipulated, erased, ignored, and harmed.” It does through the visuals of the pieces used. Stones and a stack of tubes on top of photographs of women are used to portray how the women are silenced, overwhelmed, and ignored as other things are put on top of them as priorities. The cage was constructed from a variety of colors, which Jane attributes to her personal preferences more than to it being an artistic choice meant to convey some meaning. She did say that the cage was meant to help people understand what it feels like to be surrounded by pressures and dangers.
Synthesis / My Experience
I first walked in and started looking at the pieces in the exhibit without having read the artist’s statement and was confused. The artist statement helps shed some light on why the pictures that are used were chosen. I felt like the pictures were placed where they were to portray how women can often be ignored or how the world has a habit of stacking odds against them that others do not face. I found myself connecting to the idea of trying to come out of one’s own shell and embracing who one is. I’ve often found myself afraid of being stigmatized or looked at a certain way for what I like, but have found that it is much more pleasing to embrace what makes one unique and what they stand for. I have often been told that I complain too much or am too critical and negative, but my response is always that if I complain it is not out of hatred or to be a downer, but rather because I want things to be better. Because of this I was happy to hear that Jane was trying to be embracing of being a feminist, as I have always believed that by staying quiet one is basically showing how they approve of how things are.