Student spotlights reproductive rights in art exhibit

Media Credit: Madeleine Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Megan Dauerman, a senior majoring in fine art, designed two pieces of art meant to bring attention to reproductive rights that are now displayed in Smith Hall.

If you’ve walked on the sidewalk between Phillips and Rome halls in the past week, you may have strolled by a large American flag and portrait of President Donald Trump in the window without doing a double-take.

From afar, the work may not seem out of the ordinary. But upon closer look through the windows of Smith Hall’s Gallery 102, you’ll notice the flag was crafted with menstrual pad wrappers and stencils in the shape of a uterus, and the portrait was painted with a blood-like substance on menstrual pads.

Megan Dauerman, a senior majoring in fine art who designed the pieces, said she was inspired to speak out against Trump’s negative rhetoric toward women and to bring attention to women’s reproductive rights.

“This is what I think and I’m not going to leave my opinions in the shadows, crawl in a corner and not stand up for myself,” she said.

Dauerman’s collection, which is collectively called “U.S.A. (Uteruses Silenced by Autocrats),” is part of this year’s Presidential Scholars in the Arts show, “Ephemeral,” which opens this Thursday, she said.

The portrait of a smug-looking Trump was created with a mix of pure paint and a thickening substance to make it appear as blood. The image lays atop a bed of maxi-pads.

Dauerman said the composition was inspired by Trump’s “blood coming out of her wherever” comment directed at Megyn Kelly during a 2015 Republican presidential debate.

The other piece, an eye-catching American flag, occupies an entire wall in the gallery. Dauerman said she painted the flag with acrylic and spray paints and printed the stripes with a homemade uterus-shaped stamp. The stars are made of the wrappers from menstrual pads that serve as the portrait’s canvas.

Dauerman said she decided to create the flag later, after the Women’s March on Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration. The flag represents the country’s unity and the power that women have, she said.

“It’s this weird instance in which one of our organs, because we’re women and because it happens to be part of reproduction, is under attack,” she said.

Throughout her time as a student, Dauerman has wanted to “break the boundary between conceptual and controversial,” which the exhibit allowed her to do, she said.

Dauerman added that she hopes her art will inspire women to feel empowered and advocate for reproductive rights.

“I think as artists we need to produce art that may be controversial,” she said. “I hope that women feel empowered and know that there is this community that isn’t going to back down and let someone control them.”

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