Through photography, installation, performance, and intervention, I aim to challenge stigma. Stigma is a fear driven two-dimensionality machine- it takes the real experience of real people and squashes it flat into stereotypes and presumptions. It is what many of us do to people and issues too difficult to comfortably comprehend. The stigmatized become bite-sized wafers that are more palatable and digestible than complex. I hope to complicate what has become flat, to flesh out experience, and to expose what is dismissed.
When faced with vulnerability and difference, we sometimes resort to the simplicity of binary thinking. These binaries include the divisive “us/them:” the force that “others.” My work blurs these distinctions with irony, play, and mystery. I present my experiences from the lens trained to my own body, so essentially human, such that perhaps “we” and “they” can be closer than we first imagine.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Gwynneth VanLaven (she/they) is an artist, activist and facilitator whose practice includes photography, installation, writing, performance, and social engagement. Gwynneth received her BA in Multimodal Language (an independent, cross-disciplinary major) with a minor in photography, and MFA from George Mason University in Critical Art Practice, also a multimodal study. Gwynneth taught at the School of Art at George Mason University until relocating to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where they now study at the University of Michigan for a Master of Social Work in Interpersonal Practice and Community Change. Alongside studies, Gwynneth is creating and leading for InterPlay (interplay.org) and DanceAbility (DanceAbility Detroit)- whole mindbody forms drawing on self- and other- inquiry and connection.
Gwynneth’s visual and written works have been shown in numerous exhibitions and publications nationally and globally, including in The Washington Post and Performance Research, and at the Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy Center. In addition to solo art practice, Gwynneth worked as a part of The Floating Lab Collective, and now joins a University of Michigan group, The Self-Healing & Social Justice Art Collective comprised of artists dedicated to social engagement and activism through interactive and inclusive art.
© Gwynneth VanLaven: