- October 2, 2010 - February 27, 2011
Virtually from birth when they are issued skull caps to keep their heads warm in the nursery, girls are associated with the color pink and boys with the color blue. In her Kidspace exhibition, artist Portia Munson focused on how the colors pink and blue help to shape and reinforce gender roles. Color Forms I was the first of a two-part series of exhibitions that explored how color can become form and how it can be connected to social constructions of meaning such as gender.
In Color Forms I, Munson used paintings, photographs, and everyday objects to discuss the mixed messages sent to children about gender and about mass consumption. The sheer mass of collected pink and blue material goods on view made plain how children are indoctrinated into the world of materialism and are taught social rules for gender identity from an early age.
Color Forms I was targeted toward third through eighth graders. Students from Greylock, Brayton, and Sullivan schools in North Adams, plus students from Florida and Savoy, visited the exhibition during the installation as part of their school curriculum.
Munson offered this explanation of her work: “The ‘Pink Projects’ are an exploration of the color pink, a culturally loaded color that has been projected onto girls and women and is made up of thousands of inexpensive products that are either produced or packaged in the color pink. These pink plastic objects — fake nails, tampon applicators, hair clips, makeup, cleaning products, mirrors, baby pacifiers — seem to be trying to imitate and perfect the body, perfect nature. In these installations, the discarded items assume new value and meaning, showing the marketing of femininity and how our culture infantilizes women.”
Kidspace is a collaborative project of the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute, Williams College Museum of Art, and MASS MoCA. Major support for Color Forms I is provided by the Avis Family Foundation, with additional support from Berkshire Bank; the Brownrigg Charitable Trust and Alice Shaver Foundation in memory of Lynn Laitman; the Golub Foundation; the James and Robert Hardman Fund for North Adams, a fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation; the Massachusetts Cultural Council; the National Endowment for the Arts; and the Ruth E. Proud Charitable Trust.
Pink Project; Bedroom (detail), 2011