Week 5 | Artist Conversation: Jane Weibel

Jane Weibel is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Long Beach State, finishing up her BFA in the School of Arts’ Ceramics program. After graduation, Weibel hopes to attend UCLA for grad school in order to gain more exposure within the LA art community. Weibel chose to become a part of the ceramics program because she had learned to throw clay pots a few years ago, so clay is a very familiar material to her. Ceramics became sculptural to her because she sees it as a material with which you can make virtually whatever you want. She describes the material as something that is simultaneously fragile and very strong.

Weibel’s exhibition titled “Psycho Cycle” can be found at the CSULB School of Art in the Max L. Gatov Gallery East. The exhibition highlights Weibel’s public proclamation that she is a feminist, her view of how women are seen and treated within society, and essentially her personal struggles and experiences as a woman. The main forms of media that were used to create the pieces in the exhibit are clay, printed photos, bungee chords, and one piece in particular that the artist refers to as “the cage”, was created with plastic pieces of broken down storage containers. Throughout the majority of the exhibition, you can see that Weibel created multiple sculptures that resemble rocks, or rather boulders. You see photos of women carrying these boulders. Not only do they carry them, but many of the photos are placed under the boulders, as if to sort of conceal them, hide them to make it as if they’re not there at all, but they are. In one piece in particular, there is a photo of a woman that is being crumpled, as it is being held against a pillow and a boulder, held up by a bungee chord. A lot of the pieces in the exhibit are very colorful and vibrant, which is pretty much the nature of the artist’s preferred aesthetic–she loves bright colors. The artist explained that the implications of the colors that people may have are always going to be present, but brighter colors are just naturally what she leans toward.

Weibel explains that her exhibit is essentially a display of her frustration not only as a woman, but as a self-proclaimed feminist. She spoke about how not only is it tiring experiencing small micro-aggressions on a daily basis, but it’s also that much more difficult trying to fight these micro-aggressions being a feminist–a group that has been historically stigmatized. She explains that the pictures that are being hidden by her sculptures represent women in today’s society being constantly overlooked, spoken over, dismissed, stereotyped, shamed, ignored, and so much more. This message is also illustrated in a piece that is essentially a pile of shredded up paper. Weibel explained that this piece in particular was Felix Gonzalez-Torres inspired, a sort of nod to him and the pieces that he has put together to illustrate issues with AIDS. This piece in particular highlights the ways in which society not only ignores the identities of women, but destroys evidence of these identities in the same way that a paper shredder destroys personal information about people. She expresses her anger toward the treatment that women are subjected to on such a normal basis through her artwork. Not only does the artist showcase the ways in which women are essentially ignored in society, but she also presents a visual representation of the sort of box that women are condemned to, in a piece that she refers to as “the cage”. She explains that the cage is meant to make you question what the function of the cage is. Why are women forced to conform to such a narrow societal standard? This piece of art is made out of domestic items–very practical, mass-produced, cheap objects. The fact that the cage is made out of such cheap material shows how superficial and bland the expectations of women in our society are.

This exhibit in particular resonates with me very strongly. Being a young woman in today’s society, I understand the struggles that Weibel is trying to illustrate through her artwork. Not only does the experience of simply being a woman resonate with me, but the blatant proclamation of being a feminist as well. Women, and even men today take a lot of heat for calling themselves feminists when they do. Historically, we see that “feminism” is a dirty word, and it is very true that the group carries a certain stigma. Everything that this exhibit illustrates and stands for is everything that I believe feminism should be about. It shows that while being a woman is difficult, while being a feminist is difficult, it is necessary to recognize that there are issues here. It is important that there is recognition of these issues, and that we take action to solve them.

I very much appreciated this exhibit, as well as the artist who created it. Hats off to you, Ms. Weibel, thank you.

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