The Cliteracy Project brings fresh perspective to campus

Brianna Marshall, Senior Writer

The Samek Art Gallery hosted “Cliteracy: The Unseen Subject,” a lecture and art reception on Feb. 12. Sophia Wallace, a New York-based conceptual artist and photographer, presented and explained the motivation for her feminist work and representation of the female body.

Wallace, a Smith College and New York University graduate, describes herself as a member of the “queer community” and dedicated her early career to documenting lesbian culture by producing images of loving same-sex relationships. This mission became increasingly personal when she used subjects whom she describes as her “friends and lovers.” Wallace believes that an increasing necessity exists to eliminate “queer absence,” or the lack of visibility of this group within society, and has attempted to alleviate this issue through her art.

The main focus of Wallace’s work has transitioned to women’s issues as a whole and to the discrepancy of male and female representation within art and popular culture. Cliteracy is a word that Sophia coined herself to describe the necessity for increased knowledge of the female anatomy. Wallace’s work is controversial, discussing female sexual pleasure and the equality of male and female genitals.

She has launched a national campaign through university and art gallery involvement, but acknowledges the risk in promoting this sensitive issue. Censorship is a major consideration, yet Wallace has gained an extremely supportive following to promote her mission.

“It was really eye-opening because it’s not something that is brought up often, even within close circles of friends. I myself realized how sheltered I was from this topic that has been considered taboo for so long. After the exhibit, I felt empowered, which I think is telling of how powerful a message Sophia Wallace is sending,” Lydia Colvin ’15 said.

The Cliteracy Project artwork is on display in Samek Art Gallery from Feb. 12 to March 16.

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