‘Woman’ — An attack on the patriarchy

Josh Meredith, Photo Editor

The process starts with a single flash, a fraction of a second passes as she immortalizes her subjects. 

For over a year now, Megan Thorne has been working on her latest photographic art exhibition titled “Woman.”

The show is part of the Efroymson Bridge Year Fellowship, a program that helps fund pre-grad students expand their work, it is now on display in the McCutchan Art Center until March 5th. 

Thorne shows her model the the images she just took
Megan Thorne shows model, Eleanor Samberg, the photos on her camera in USI’s Lighting Studio, November 6, 2020. (Josh Meredith )

“The best way that I can describe my show is an attack on the patriarchy,” Said Thorne. “It’s a movement towards equality for women.” 

Thorne claims to have always been a strong feminist, but she said in the Summer of 2019 she had an epiphany.

She decided to use her artistic talent to protest gender inequality.

The exhibition itself could be described as unique. Not a single photograph in the show has a frame. 

“I think people have this idea around photography,” said Thorne. “(people) like photos with white matte board and a black frame when it can be more than that; that’s boring.”

The pieces that aren’t suspended in the air by fishing line, are pasted to the wall, along with hundreds of torn magazine pages.  

According to Thorne, it took four people and 18 hours of work to hang them all up.

“I’ll never look at another magazine again,” said Thorne. 

collage of magazines
Part of the piece titled “Unrepresented” By Megan Thorne

For six months, Thorne studied the representation of women in media exclusively for her show, particularly how magazine ads and other forms of physical media impact women negatively. 

Thorne says she learned a lot through putting on an art show during the pandemic.

“This fellowship has taught me a lot about perseverance,” said Thorne. “Putting together a whole exhibition in the middle of a pandemic sucks, but everybody around me is experiencing it too. There’s not one person in our world that isn’t upset about COVID.”

Thorne was mentored by Rob Dickes, assistant professor of photography and digital imaging. Mentor is not an official title, but according to Dickes every fellowship applicant must have an appointed advisor that assists them with the work they make. 

 “It’s a little bit of everything,” said Dickes. “A big part of this is the understanding of what it is to be a grad student, it’s a massive commitment.”

“Pretty in Plastic” by Megan Thorne

According to Dickes, Thorne suffered a major setback due to the university’s Art Center closing during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“She didn’t have facilities. She had these ideas that she wanted to do, but couldn’t because she needed facilities, studio access, lighting equipment, things like that,” said Dickes. 

Thorne used what she had. During quarantine Thorne did an entire photo series of a male and female comparison of things found around her house according to Dickes. It was intended to show the monetary value associated with a gender role, and Dickes advised her to move forward with the idea. 

The series became a major part of Thorne’s exhibition. Instead of photographs, daily household objects like handbags and bobby pins are put on display with a price tag, showing how much money people spend on them. 

 

Megan Thorne takes notes in The McCutchan Art Center before a webinar, February 3, 2021.

Dickes was excited to see such a different take on a feminist exhibition saying it was a great experimentation of the concept. 

“feminism is a very grander word because you could break it down into a thousand different categories,” said Dickes. “One of the things I think is successful about the show is that it leaves open different things for people to think about.”

Dickes urges that people, especially men, see Thorne’s exhibition in person, saying that the gallery is taking extra precautions to accommodate attendees. 

“I want people to realize that they do not have to be an artist to understand this show,” said Dickes. “they will take their own things out of it. Whether they’re thinking about gender, sexuality, economics, the rights of women, this show will speak to them in one way or another.”

Em Davis, senior art major, considers the show to be a profoundly immersive experience. 

“You see a lot more than what’s displayed,” she said. “Whether you’re a feminist or not it can change minds, everyone should come and see it.” 

Megan Thorne’s fellowship exhibition, “Woman,” is on display in person at the McCutchan Art Center until March 5th and virtually on the University website.

When talking about her work, Megan Thorne makes it simple. 

“A lot of people think if you’re doing work on feminism then you’re burning bras or doing something weird with tampons,” says Thorne. “I’m just trying to prove a point.”