“With my androgynous forms I invite the viewer to seek diversity in unpredictable ways, to ‘try on’ new personal avatars and self definitions, knowing that every new experience changes the brain’s structure and inspires each of us toward a more authentic self.”
Activism and gender justice are the main concerns of sculptor Linda Stein’s “The Fluidity of Gender: Sculpture”. Stein was born in the Bronx, N.Y. in 1955. She earned her B.A. from Queens College, and her M.A. at Pratt Institute. She produced her first major artistic works entitled “Blades,” in the early 1990’s. “The Fluidity of Gender: Sculpture” is a touring sculpture exhibit that was created in 2007. Stein, who is a member of the Veteran’s Feminists of America, was inspired to create a work of sculpture that blended the femininity and masculinity.
“My goal as an artist is to use my art to transform social consciousness and promote activism for gender justice,” she said on her website.
The exhibition has toured around the country since 2010, and will continue to move around the country until 2015. Stein hopes this will help increase awareness for body image identity, and provoke thought about gender roles.
The main goal of the sculpture is to blend traditional ideas of gender. In her colorful, rigid sculptures, Stein plays with strong and soft forms in order to create balance. The sculpture is meant to open the viewers up to new ideas of gender fluidity. Many of the sculptures incorporate superhero themes, to bring forth ideas of strength and powerful performance that are generally associated men. She then mixes these ideals with more feminine forms and colors, using interesting materials such as comic book pages and leather. The series rejects the idea that one’s sense of gender is static.
Gender identity has been widely discussed in the LGBTQA community. In her work “One is Not Born a Woman,” French Feminist Monique Wittig discusses ideas similar to Stein’s of gender fluidity.
“By assuming that there is a ‘natural’ division between women and men, we naturalize history, and we assume that ‘men’ and ‘women’ have always existed and will always exist.”
The main inspiration for “The Fluidity of Gender: Sculpture” is the classic DC Comic book character, Wonder Woman. The character of wonder woman has been breaking gender barriers since her creation in the 1940’s. At the time her character was created, gender roles were rigid, but found new light during World War II when women were sent to the factories. Female independence and strength was a new idea, and at the time, created a new sense of gender fluidity. Stein draws on these gender-bending ideas for her series, as well as featuring images of the superhero herself.
Stein’s art embodies a complex concept with simplistic forms. By physically creating human bodies that resemble both of the biological physical sexes, Stein encourages to viewer to think more deeply about non-physical gender. In this sense, Stein uses art in order to promote activism for men, women, and anybody in between.