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Randolph Magazine Vol. 8 No. 2

22 INVESTIGATING IDENTITY Randolph professor curates new exhibition examining race, gender, and sexuality French artist Edgar Degas once wrote, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” For art history professor Lesley Shipley, that same sense of open interpretation was the beauty of the exhibit she curated at Randolph this spring, Investigating Identity: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary Art and Prints from the Permanent Collection. “I think oftentimes with art, we might assume that there’s one message that the artist wants to get across when in fact there are many,” Shipley said. “I didn’t want people to come out and say, ‘I get it.’ I wanted it to be thought-provoking and to provoke conversation.” Inspired by the current political climate and activism related to racial and gender equality, Investigating Identity featured a variety of works from the College’s permanent collection as well as two paintings by Baltimore artist Zoe Charlton. The exhibit coincided with Shipley’s special topics course, Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary Art. Curating the exhibition was a great way for Shipley, who is in her first year as a Randolph professor, to not only introduce herself to the Randolph community but to encourage thoughtful discussion. “I wanted people to come away with questions about how we think about identity, how we represent identity and how we represent ourselves, and the kinds of expectations we have about people when we encounter someone visually,” she said. “Art is very visual, so we have our own sort of catalog in our heads about what we think we know about people who look a certain way, and I think these artists kind of pushed that boundary.” Shipley’s students were exposed to open discussions both in class


Randolph Magazine Vol. 8 No. 2
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