At a reception on Tuesday, Sabine Strauch ’19 debuted her new exhibition on the commodification on the female body in advertising — “Women: Starting at $19.99” — at Olive Tjaden Gallery.
She started planning for this exhibition in the spring when she applied for a solo exhibition to the department of art in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.
“I knew I would be painting all summer,” Strauch explained. “So I decided to apply and get space so I could show the work I make.”
The title of the exhibition refers to the commodification of the female body in advertising, a theme that threads through the collection’s three paintings and one poem.
“I was looking at vintage advertisements from the fifties and sixties,” she told The Sun. “They’re really horrible and absurd in their representation of the female body.”
Strauch believed that these issues still persist today, so she created the artwork to generate conversations by referencing vintage advertisements in her paintings.
Her favorite piece of the collection, “Taste the Rainbow,” criticizes society’s squeamish attitude toward female body parts. The piece depicts a rainbow emanating from a woman’s body.
“I was thinking about the whole controversy with DJ Khaled and how society conceived the vagina as gross,” Strauch said, referencing DJ Khaled’s statement that he does not perform oral sex on women, according to The Independent. “So I was just playing on that idea in a humorous way by showing that vaginas are magical like rainbows.”
Jax Davies ’19, who visited the exhibit, pointed to “When It Rains It Pours” as her favorite work in the collection.
“Sabine’s such a vintage person,” Davies told The Sun, stating that the painting “really embodies her as an individual and as an artist.”
Another one of Davies’s favorite piece was the poem. She explained to The Sun that “it makes you think more deeply about the meaning behind the other artworks.” The poem, which starts from the advertisers’ perspective and becomes a reclamation of the female body, was the last piece of the collection according to Strauch.
“I didn’t know that I was going to include a poem in the exhibition,” Strauch explained. “But I felt like I need another layer that tie everything together.”
“I wrote it in a day, and it just felt right,” she added.
“Women: Starting at $19.99” is open for viewing at Olive Tjaden Gallery until Sept. 15.