Artist Lissa Rivera's Gallery Talk on the Human Aesthetic, Gender, and Beauty
The Warner Gallery is currently featuring Beautiful Boy, an exhibition of photographs from artist Lissa Rivera, who visited campus on Friday, January 11th, to give a gallery talk.
“Students from various classes and disciplines have been working hard to prepare for Rivera’s gallery exhibition and visit,” said Arts Department Chair Sarah MacWright. “Art students have been studying her work, installing the gallery, and more, while English students in Mrs. Krauss’ Beauty in Literature course have been exploring philosophies around how beauty is defined and evolves. They applied what they learned through drafting didactics for Ms. Rivera's show.”
Lissa Rivera is a photographer based in Brooklyn, NY; she combines her interest in the social history of photography with ideas surrounding sexuality and gender. Beautiful Boy is the result of Rivera's collaboration with partner BJ Lillis to create photographs that explore identity in art. “The images show a genderqueer individual in feminine clothing surrounded by beautiful colors and tones,” writes Claire Reid ’19 in her gallery introduction. “The work suggests that binary gender is not an essential component of beauty.”
Performing arts students also got involved, using the artwork as a prompt for writing imagined dialogues for the different roles that the subject, BJ Lillis, portrays.
All students were eager to engage with Lissa Rivera’s photography in a way that allowed them to practice speaking about beauty more broadly. "In their culminating projects that hypothesized what beauty would look like in 50 years, my Beauty in Literature students concluded that the human aesthetic will become more fluid and individualized and less concerned with traditional (or binary) social concepts," said Mrs. Krauss. "This was particularly exciting given the fact that we had the special task of writing the didactics for Lissa Rivera’s work. Her images inspired many thoughtful and passionate discussions throughout the semester."
Rivera was brought to Millbrook through the generosity of the John Berkey Class of 1991 Visiting Artists series, which was created with the goal of bringing more artists to campus. Rivera addressed over fifty eager students in the Warner Gallery on Friday evening to discuss her work and career in more detail.
Click here to view photos of the exhibition and here for more details about upcoming events in the Holbrook Arts Center.