Dr. Amber Ward, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Education at FSU, presented a performative art installation at WJB Gallery 1006 on February 7, 2020. Sweep it Under the Rug explores the role of personal, cultural, and institutional knowledge on gender expression. The art installation visualizes narratives collected from volunteer survey participants. Making narratives visible suggests that learning can be produced in the ecology of materials, meaning, and ethics. These ecologies can unsettle gender roles and give life to the narratives that otherwise have been historically silenced.
The performance featured Dr. Ward inside the intimate gallery space with a collection of survey responses on vinyl circles that she spilled onto the floor and swept under a braided rag rug. As she pulled the narratives out from under the rug one-by-one to press onto the windows facing the viewers, Egda Claudio (Art Education doctoral student) and Julie Wells (Arts Administration master’s student) read the survey responses aloud. The viewers were invited to respond to the performance by adding visual and written text onto the glass wall that separated them from Dr. Ward.
After the performance, Dr. Ward thanked the viewers and remarked how uncanny it was to be so close to and yet separated from them by the glass wall. She commented how powerful the experience was when a viewer would add a contribution and their hands would almost touch, separated only by the glass, or when their eyes would meet. During an informal interview, Dr. Ward stated, “I hope this work contributes to the field of art education by amplifying the impact of producing solidarity in these moments of shared materials, meanings, and ethics. Building solidarity challenges feelings like isolation and shame when gender expression does not align with the traditional ways of moving through the world.”
Sweep it Under the Rug runs through the month of February and is inviting further participation from viewers. #sweepingstatement