Jan. 17—Thursday night, the Thomasville Center for the Arts held an opening reception for their newest exhibit, "Where+Wear+Ware," with two of the three accredited artists of the exhibit in attendance.
A collaboration between the three artists, Leah Gossett, Tenee' Hart and April Webb, each brought their own unique interests to the conceptualization of the idea, with Webb explaining that each part of the exhibit's name explained an aspect that one of the artists contributed.
"So it's actually all encompassed in the name itself,'" Webb said. "The first 'Where' is actually Leah Gossett's 'Where,' which is about location and her work is particularly about growing up in rural Appalachia and being on a farm, but also being required to sort've model the roles of femininity."
Tenee' explained that the 'Wear' in the exhibit's title came from her own interest in the dresses and cosmetics involved in the expectations of women in polite society.
"It deals with me because my practice, in general, deals with beauty extremes and the extremes that women, in particular, go through in order to be seen as this, like, beauty, but also, like acceptance within societal, cultural," Tenee' said. "So, the 'Wear' deals with clothing and things like that, but I think 'Wear' also can be extended to also these rituals and traditions that we do in order to be accepted."
The third facet of the exhibit, the 'Ware,' according to Webb, comes from her own interest in how certain objects build labor hierarchies within and outside of the home, grounded in gender roles.
"The third 'Ware' is rooted in housewares is my work, that is particularly about how gender roles structure work within the home," Webb said. "It also shows how that comes outside of the home and translates into labor hierarchies within workplaces as well."
The exhibit itself is fashioned from household objects, from furniture to cleaning supplies, with a grounding in the feeling of a home and the handiwork methods passed down from generations of women taking care of the domestic abode that the artists of "Where+Wear+Ware" use as the foundation for their piece.
Coming up with the idea for the exhibit over the summer, the construction of the exhibit began nearly two weeks before the reception, with Tenee' and Webb saying that they each invested over 80 hours of work into getting each piece properly rigged and affixed for the exhibit.
"There are some things that we made ahead of time over the summer," Webb said. "I would say we probably put in 80-plus hours each for the show, so labor intensive is an understatement."
Hart and Webb, both of whom are based out of Tallahassee, Fla., said that they chose the Thomasville Center of the Arts for their exhibit because of the center's inherent home-like appeal and Thomasville possessing the southern rural culture and memories they wished to connect to.
"I think a lot of it was the fact that there is the architecture, the fact that the room itself lends itself to the nostalgia that we're speaking of," Webb said. "It lends itself to more of a home. The hardwood floors that have seen the test of time are always going to bring something different than a gallery with pristine concrete. The other portion of it was the fact that we knew the people in the area could understand the nostalgia we were speaking to."
The artists were happy with the popularity of the reception, with Webb saying that they appreciated the hard work of the center and Sam McCoy, artist program manager, to advertise this exhibit to the community.
"I mean, I'm very pleased," Webb said. "I think that anytime you make something, the hope is that somebody, a person, shows up to see it, right? I feel great in this moment because you see people come here, understand it, not understand it but appreciate it, or just enjoy the company of other people who are enjoying art. All of that feels great, makes it worth it."
Tenee' agreed and said that the center had taken a chance on them and their exhibit and she was appreciative for all the help they'd been offered in the weeks leading up to the reception.
"I'm very thankful to the TCA and the whole team," Tenee' said. "And again, this is very much outside of their box and I'm glad they took a chance on our show, because it was a huge risk for them."
The exhibition will be on display until February 22 at the Thomasville Center for the Arts.