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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Exhibits on Monarch Way Highlight Timely Topics Via Socially Distant Viewing

By Amy Matzke-Fawcett

Two new exhibits on Monarch Way encourage socially distant and socially aware viewing.

"A Yellow Rose Project" is a photographic collaboration of responses, reflections and reactions to the 19th Amendment from more than a hundred women across the United States on display evenings in the Barry Arts Building rotunda. Images from the artists are projected on to the wall with a projector after dark. Across the street in the Baron and Ellin Gordon Galleries, "Jennifer's Flag" depicts an American flag made up of hundreds of political T-shirts from across the spectrum of belief.

Greta Pratt, professor in the Department of Art in Old Dominion University's College of Arts and Letters, is a photographer contributor to the "A Yellow Rose Project." She said it's a timely exhibition incorporating the diverse voices of women across the country. She said the credit all goes to Meg Griffiths and Frances Jakubek, the project's creators, for the idea of commemorating the anniversary and the yellow rose women wore to signify support for voting rights.

Pratt's documentary-style photographs in the exhibit were taken in 2019 during a women's march.

"I just tried to take pictures of women with signs and remove it from the idea of the march itself," Pratt said. "I took portraits of women and what they wanted to say, and while very little of the work is documentary (across the project), it's an incredible variety of work the women have submitted."

The styles show the diversity of the lives of women, said Agnieszka Whelan, senior lecturer in the Department of Art.

"Some are very subtle, very delicate, and others are documentary style like Greta's," Whelan said. "The exhibition extends the sphere of women's lives so that it's not just focused on the anniversary, and that amendment, but the wonderful richness of life in so many different approaches."

While both the Barry Arts Building and the Gordon Galleries are open only to ODU students, faculty and staff due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, Whelan noted she has watched students and other passersby sit on the benches outside and watch the projections, and look through the windows of the Gordon Galleries to see "Jennifer's Flag".

The T-shirts making up the flag show the divisiveness of the country in recent years, Pratt said. The piece came to ODU after Pratt worked with artist Jennifer Little on a show in California. Pratt helped bring it here due to the import of the University arts spaces as a place to take in art and connect to developments in ethics, morality and current events.

Both noted the connection between the distanced viewings and the ways it allows viewers to look at art from a different perspective.

"Both are in alternative spaces, completely removed from associations of a museum: one is in a teaching building and the other is in the atrium of the gallery, which is a sort of 'coming-through space,'" Whelan said. "The connection to viewers is very immediate, and none of the structures is in place that we would normally have."

"A Yellow Rose Project" is on display in the Barry Arts Building rotunda after dark through Nov. 20. "Jennifer's Flag" is on display through Nov. 21 at the Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries.

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