Sophia Wallace | Cliteracy: The Art of Intimate Justice

UMassD CVPA Campus Gallery, September 13 - November 4, 2022

Sophia Wallace self portrait
Sophia Wallace

UMass Dartmouth CVPA Campus Gallery and the Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality present Sophia Wallace Cliteracy: The Art of Intimate Justice

Exhibition Dates: September 13 - November 4, 2022
Opening Reception: Tuesday, September 13, 5 to 7 pm; Artist Talk at 6 pm
Location: CVPA Campus Gallery at 285 Old Westport Road in Dartmouth, MA 02747
Gallery Hours: Mon, Wed, Thur 10 am–4 pm; Tues 10 am–6 pm, Friday 10 am–noon

LECTURE

Sophia Wallace: The Future is Cliterate
Time: Tuesday, October 25 at 7 pm 
Location: The Grand Reading Room, Claire T. Carney Library, UMass Dartmouth
All events are free and open to the public.

Swan Series, 2022, ceramic, 14 x 6 x 13 in.
Swan Series, 2022, ceramic, 14 x 6 x 13 in.

UMass Dartmouth CVPA Campus Gallery and the Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality are proud to present Cliteracy: The Art of Intimate Justice, an exhibition by New York City based artist Sophia Wallace in the CVPA Campus Gallery from September 13 through November 4, 2022. The opening reception is planned for Tuesday, September 13, 5 to 7 pm at CVPA Campus Gallery at 285 Old Westport Road in Dartmouth, MA 02747 with the Artist Talk at 6 pm. Light refreshments will be served. (Please use parking lot 5 or 6 and walk to the CVPA building from there. The gallery is on the first floor.)

Swan Series, 2022, ceramic, 14 x 6 x 30 in.
Swan Series, 2022, ceramic, 14 x 6 x 30 in.

This exhibition, created specifically for UMass Dartmouth, presents text based work alongside ceramic and neon sculptures, patterned textiles, murals and new site-specific installations. The exhibition is unified by its focus on a mostly unknown yet ubiquitous part of human anatomy. 

With many artworks exhibited for the first time, Wallace invites us not only to look at art, but also to laugh, learn, think, question, and perhaps feel a little more at home in our own bodies. She says, “I create artworks that envision an embodied citizenship for those whose genitals and gender are weaponized against them. Over the last decade, I have focused on a single project: to establish the clitoric within our epistemology of subjects, symbols and bodies. While the phallic obelisk can be seen from national monuments to cemeteries, representation of the clitoric is conspicuously absent. Through art experiences, I invite broad audiences to liberate themselves from the punishing weight of sexual shame and self-hatred.”

Alongside the exhibition, the gallery also presents “Until She is Free,” a short documentary film by Maria Finitzo that is deeply connected to the social issues that are at the core of gender equality and focuses on Sophia Wallace’s work. 

Dr. Juli Parker, Director of the Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality, notes: “At a time when women's bodies are being governed as not their own, Sophia Wallace’s work exposes the ways in which the clitoris has been hidden and silenced in female sexuality. We want students to learn about bodily autonomy and pleasure in a way they have not been taught before and to examine the ways in which suppression of the clitoris has enabled sexual violence and attacks on reproductive rights.“ 

Viera Levitt, the exhibition curator, added that the show has the ability to interact with broad audiences and deliver its message in a playful and engaging way, through neon signs, colors or even inflatable objects, so by the time the visitors leave the gallery, they will know so much more about contemporary art without realizing they also just took a intense class in social justice and female anatomy. 

Wallace notes the term “intimate justice,” used in the title of this exhibition, is a framework developed by Sara McClelland that addresses how power operates in what has been considered a private domain: sexual relations. Building upon Kimberle Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionality, intimate justice allows us to ask, Who is entitled to sexual pleasure? Who is expected to give pleasure yet seen as unworthy of reciprocation?

As a part of this project, Sophia Wallace presents a lecture “The Future is Cliterate” on 
Tuesday, October 25 at 7 pm at The Grand Reading Room, Claire T. Carney Library. The event is free and reservations are not required. Light refreshments will be served.

The project was conceived by Juli Parker and curated by Viera Levitt.

Beacon Series, neon
Beacon Series, neon

Sophia Wallace is an interdisciplinary artist working at the intersection of bodies and ethics. She holds a BA in Political Science from Smith College and an MA in Photography from New York University & The International Center of Photography. Best known for her viral project Cliteracy, Wallace is interested in the ways that people assigned female at birth and trans women are denied self-determination through the weaponization of their genitals. Drawing upon diverse materials and approaches, including large text, sculpture, installation and performance, Wallace’s art seeks to establish the clitoris in visual representation; a vital part of our understanding of the body. Her work is shown widely in the US and internationally including Spain, Austria, Mexico, Italy, Nigeria, Australia and the UK. Exhibitions of Wallace's art have been held at Sotheby’s, Samek Art Museum, Leslie-Lohman Museum, Aperture Gallery, Taschen Gallery, Blueproject Foundation, and Newspace Center of Photography, among others. Her works are in the permanent collections of Agnes Scott College and The Leslie-Lohman Museum.

Critical recognition of Wallace's work on gendered body knowledge includes The New York Times, The Atlantic, PBS, ARTE, The Guardian, Art in America, Teen Vogue, New Yorker, Time, VICE, and Huffington Post among others. Her TED featured talk, 'A Case For Cliteracy' has been viewed over 2 million times while her interactive collaboration with Huffington Post, ‘The Overdue, Under-told Story of the Clitoris’, received 3.5 million views and was translated into 3 languages. Wallace has been honored with the Griffin Museum’s Critic’s Pick Award, and PDN’s Curator Award. She was a 2012 recipient of the Van Lier Fellowship, and a 2019 "Artist On Our Radar" with Creative Capital. She was a 2019 Artist in Residence at the Project For Empty Space Feminist Incubator and an Artist in Residence at Vermont Studio Center. She is a 2020 inaugural grantee of the Crave Foundation. Most recently, Wallace can be seen in Maria Finitzo’s multi-award winning documentary film The Dilemma of Desire available on most streaming platforms.

Contacts

Viera Levitt, Director, UMass Dartmouth Galleries, College of Visual & Performing Arts
@UMassDartmouthGalleries
@umassdartmouthgalleries
gallery@umassd.edu 

Juli Parker, Ph.D.; Director, Center for Women, Gender, & Sexuality
www.umassd.edu/cwgs
@umassd_cwgs
juli.parker@umassd.edu



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