It’s said little girls are made of “everything nice.”
An art exhibition at Keystone College wants to challenge that notion.
Artist Katie Hovencamp of Bangor will show “Sugar, Spice, Not Very Nice” in the La Plume Twp. college’s Linder Galley in Miller Library beginning Monday. The show features illustrations, self-portraits, and iron and bronze sculptures that take a deeper look at the female identity in today’s society and factors that affect it.
“The work I do is questioning what the female gender really is and what a woman is defined as,” Hovencamp said, adding that the exhibit critiques the societal expectations of women in many ways. “My work can be beautiful, funny and horrific at the same time. It’s an interesting tightrope walk, for sure.”
Drawings in the exhibit — which runs until Friday, April 21 — depict silhouettes of women inflicting typical beauty rituals onto other women. Hovencamp said that reflects how some women sometimes police others about their appearance or who and what they think they should be.
The artist also created collars, like those used in private school uniforms, using delicate, soft materials. But she juxtaposed these traditionally “girly” textures with harsh iron and bronze elements. Hovencamp said these rough edges symbolize devices women would have to wear to maintain the expected standard of beauty, such as corsets, or to emphasize punishment and hold women “in their place.” The heavy collar also symbolizes the pressure on women to uphold sometimes unrealistic expectations of physical beauty.
“I feel like women are really defined by beauty, and beauty is equated with a lot of worth in society,” Hovencamp said. “As far as pop culture and representation we see of women, everything we view are really high, ridiculous standards for most people to achieve. Our society feels that women really need to be beautiful, and I use my work as a device to question that.”
Hovencamp, who teaches 3-D design at Keystone, will give a presentation on Saturday, March 1, from 4 to 5 p.m. in the gallery, with a reception to immediately follow. In light of the state of today’s politics and society, she hopes people who see the exhibit look deeper into issues such as gender roles, gender fluidity, the importance of intersectional feminism and how women are viewed.
“I hope they get a better understanding of what women do go through and how beauty and other social expectations are really pushed on women and girls all throughout development,” Hovencamp said. “I hope they walk away with an understanding of what gender and sexuality can be ... (and) go beyond what society expects of them.”
If you go
What: “Sugar, Spice, Not Very Nice,” works by Katie Hovencamp
When: Monday through Friday, April 21
Where: Linder Gallery in Miller Library, Keystone College, 1 College Road, La Plume Twp.
Details: An artist’s presentation will take place Wednesday, March 1, from 4 to 5 p.m. with reception immediately following. For more information, visit keystone.edu/linder-art-gallery or call 570-945-8335.