Student Exhibition Examines Gender Inequality in Museum Art


Oxana Ermolova,
Staff Writer

“The Museum of Woman” was an student-run play that critically examined female objectification in artwork and the lack of representation for female artists in museums. It was a senior honors project written and directed by Monica Trausch, a fourth year UC Santa Barbara Theater Major, and was performed on campus on May 31 as well as outside the Santa Barbara Museum of Art on June 2.

The Museum presented in this show was indeed unlike any other. In it, three female artworks come to life to educate an initially indifferent student about the sexism of the art world. This project explored the dominance of the male gaze (which is the viewing of the world from the male perspective) and the misrepresentation of women in male-created artwork, which denies them the right to personal expression and individual exploration of identity.

“As a woman who is an artist myself, I wanted to talk about why it is more acceptable for a woman to be an object of art rather than a creator of art,” said Trausch, who also performed the role of ethnographer in the project.

This honors project was presented by the Department of Theater and Dance. Trausch proposed it last year, researched and wrote the play during this past winter quarter and rehearsed it throughout the spring quarter. The cast included Theater majors ranging in class standing from freshman to senior. Trausch was inspired to explore art museum gender inequality by the work of prominent activist group the Guerilla Girls.

Although women have undeniably made much progress in terms of equality and representation, most of the art discussed in art textbooks and on display in museums (including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art) is still that of male artists.

Karen Urrutia-Mickler, UCSB fourth-year Theater Major, personified the Marc Chagall painting of the “Horse-Woman” in the play.
“We have to talk about these issues and make them part of our art and part of our daily conversations so that people kind of pay more attention to women in the art world, both in visual art and in theater, dance, music. That is something I’ve taken away from this project,” she said.

Erica Flor, UCSB first-year Theater major who performed the role of the student, agreed.
“I feel like before this project I was very similar to my character because I didn’t know about the male gaze and I didn’t know about female representation in art,” she said. “I can really take it and adapt it to my own life and look at things and see them in a different light.”