“Expressions of Resistance” details the complexity of art

Photo by Taya Power-Thornton

Three Boise State graduate students put together an exhibit that expresses their activism about certain modern day social issues like feminism, animal rights, sexuality and family trauma. 

The “Expressions of Resistance” exhibit, located in the Center for Visual Arts,  is curated by third-year graduate students John Bybee, Alyse-Ambriel Hanna and Hallie Maxwell. 

“We’re looking at political stuff going on in Idaho right now with the gender policies,” said Curator John Bybee. “We’re trying to highlight the inequalities that a lot of marginalized communities in southern Idaho are facing right now. So that’s kind of where a lot of that inspiration came from.”

Bybee is a third-year graduate student at Boise State and a lot of his work uses gender roles and sexuality to illustrate what society wants to cover up. 

Bybee’s artwork in “Expressions of Resistance” is inspired by the religious trauma that he faced when growing up. 

“I grew up in southeastern Idaho and a very Mormon family. So a lot of it was just kind of working through some of those experiences like the embroidery pieces,” Bybee said. “I use the embroidery techniques because that’s kind of traditionally what they teach the young women in church growing up and so I was kind of trying to play with the gender norms of that.”

The embroidery pieces included quotes that his family members said to him when he was coming out, such as “You did this to yourself”.

Alyse-Ambriel Hanna is also a third-year graduate student at Boise State. Hanna’s work focuses on her feminist ideologies and animal rights. 

Hanna’s artwork in “Expressions of Resistance” uses those specific lenses to show the oppression cosmetics have put on animals and women. 

“I found out that a lot of companies that are here in the United States that say they don’t test on animals, do test on animals in other countries,” Hanna said. “And I did some introspection, and I’m thinking about how animals have been oppressed by these cosmetic companies and then thinking about how women have also been oppressed by these cosmetic companies. And so I’m really looking at that oppression.”

Hallie Maxwell believes that artists will always have that aspect of activism and for her being a Japanese-American she shared that representation is activism. 

Being a Japanese-American has inspired Maxwell’s work and she asks the question; “what does it really mean to be Japanese-American?”

“It’s kind of a major question in my work, where I’m always searching for what it really means to me to be Japanese American, and personally, I’m a fifth generation,” Maxwell said. “So I have in a way because I feel quite distanced from that identity. And through my art, I’m kind of searching for that identity and kind of reconnecting with my ancestors through processes that they use, like calligraphy.”

The “Expression of Resistance” exhibit is something that has been quietly created for the past two and a half years. 

“It’s sometimes kind of hard to quantify, to be honest,” Maxwell said. “Because, in a way, the work that we’ve made is the result of many semesters of developing processes, but in terms of actually making the show a reality that was several months in the process.”

Although all three artists have different mediums and topics, they believed that this exhibit would be a great way to express their art and also themselves through “Expressions of Resistance”. 

“We all have been kind of making this activist artwork with all different mediums and all different topics,” Hanna said. “And so we’re like, what is this thread line? And that thread was ‘Expression of Resistance’”.

The “Expressions of Resistance” exhibit ran until Oct. 26. However, the visual arts collective has an ever changing selection of student art exhibits open to the public.

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