May 17, 2019 to June 29, 2019
1070 Bannock Street
Denver - 80204 CO
The Colorado Photographic Arts Center presents Unveiled – an exhibition of three photographic projects that reveal overlooked aspects of women's sexuality, motherhood, and reproductive health.
Lindsey Beal: Parturition
In her series Parturition, Lindsey Beal documents vintage gynecological and obstetric instruments from libraries at Harvard, Yale, Duke and Brown. The objects, some dating back to the 1700s, range from "Dr. John Hooper's Female Pills" to a nipple shield made of lead. While photographing them, Beal encountered a complicated history. "Medical history has been fraught with racism and sexism—tools were often forcibly tested on the poor, the enslaved, and sex workers," she writes. Conversely, those tools saved lives.
Beal also discovered that some tools haven't changed much, like forceps and speculums. "Some were created pre-germ theory and used materials such as leather, wood, horn or ivory," she said. "Others more closely resemble and use materials familiar to us today."
Each photograph is printed digitally on Plexiglas, creating an object reminiscent of 20th century educational slides. Beal's choice of materials links past to present and invites us to reflect on how women's reproductive health and medicine has evolved, yet in some aspects remains the same.
Megan Jacobs: Hidden Mothers
Megan Jacobs' series of portraits references Victorian-era "hidden mother" photography, when mothers who wanted a record of their children would hide under fabric and hold their child for the duration of the exposure to ensure a sharp image. Jacobs' images are a metaphor for the unrecognized work that mothers do to support, provide for and nurture their children.
"Mothers are navigating a world where their roles as a nurturer can feel sidelined and invisible," she writes.
Each mother is wrapped in floral bed linen that elicits traditional notions of femininity and domestic spaces. "There is a tension between hiding and revealing: the mothers' identities are obscured, yet the vibrant sheets accentuate their presence, while in other instances aspects of their identities are exposed.
Sarah Sudhoff: Wired
Wired is a series of documentary photographs of sexual devices used by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Founded by the famous sexologist Alfred Kinsey in 1947, the Institute has always been a lightning rod for controversy.
Wired began as a way to satisfy Sudhoff's curiosity about the Institute. During one visit, she was exploring the Institute's library when a graduate student walked in to clean one of the medical devices being used next door. "It was a potent reminder that sexual research is still happening, and it is just as pressing – and taboo – as it was 60 years ago," Sudhoff writes.
She became fascinated with the devices used in sex research. "We can't help but imagine the stories the devices carry with them: What was done with them? To whom? And by whom? And because these devices are intended to elicit and record sexual responses, they can never be fully separated from their "naughty" or "pornographic" meanings, no matter to what extent the Institute uses them as tools of science."