Women rise in “Women Hold Up Half the Sky”

With a vibrant sunset as their backdrop, five saxophonists pursed their lips against their instruments, the sound of jazz music marking the commencement of the night’s event.

The opening reception for the art exhibit “Women Hold Up Half the Sky” attracted students and faculty to the Art Gallery on Nov. 3 at 6 p.m.

The exhibit consists of 14 text panels positioned around the gallery and three computer screens playing different videos, informing viewers of gender-based issues and encouraging them to get involved in the solution.

The traveling exhibit is on loan from the Skirball Cultural Center and focuses on stories of women from around the world. The themes on display include sex-trafficking, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality.

Students, staff, and faculty members stopped by the table in the middle of the gallery to write a “wish” for a woman in need on a piece of pre-cut paper. According to Art Gallery Director Monika Ramirez-Wee, the wishes will be added to the white, tulle “wish canopy” hanging from the ceiling of the gallery.

“I think it’s very pertinent with what’s been going on with the timber of our elections and the attention to gender-based violence and rape culture on college campuses,” Ramirez-Wee said. “How do we, as men and women, deal with these issues? These aren’t women’s issues, these are human issues. How are we going to work to adjust them?”

Crowds gathered inside the gallery and outside by the musicians throughout the night. Outreach Librarian Lisa Valdez said she was happy with the amount of people who showed up.

“The exhibit itself is very poignant and I’m just glad that we got such a good turnout for the reception and a lot of faculty has been coming out, so we’re really excited about that,” Valdez said.

The five saxophonists who provided live music accompaniment are members of the college’s music band. According to Music Professor Wendy Mazon, the decision to include live musicians at the reception came from Valdez.

“[Valdez] mentioned that they were wondering if anybody from the band would be interested in performing at this event,” Mazon said. “I asked the band who would be interested, and the saxophone section got together and started rehearsing specifically for this event.”

Pierce student Jacob Billings said he went to the reception mainly to listen to the music, but he ended up finding the displays to be very powerful.

“It’s definitely sort of appalling the way that women are treated, or just people in general, are treated in different societies and even in our own society,” Billings said. “I think it’s good exposure for this type of stuff, and we should be talking about it.”

According to Valdez, multiple departments were involved in putting together the exhibit. She thinks it caters to all students because of its different components, from the content to the aesthetic.

“I think that everybody can get something out of this exhibition,” Valdez said. “People who would major in social work, child development, sociology, psychology, history, they can all play a part by getting information from this exhibition. People who are interested in any type of art, just the design, display, and the time and intricacy that went into putting this together is something to be seen.”

The gallery hours are Monday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursdays 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The exhibit will be on display until Dec. 18.