The last artist exhibition I saw in the university was a MFA exhibition by Priscilla Varner. The exhibition was called Emancipating Jane, and Varner wanted to show sex workers in Reno and Carson City in a more casual light and control their representation to how they saw fit with self-authored, vernacular photography. She wanted to veer away from the normal objectifications of sex workers and artistic views of them in brothels.
I thought this was a very interesting exhibit to see. Each wall held one or two different collections of photographs from a different sex worker in Reno and Las Vegas. The pictures themselves did not really portray them as the stereotypical sex worker in a brothel but instead showed them in a more every day light. Some pictures showed them on hikes; others showed their house and collections of makeup or shoes. There were one or two photos in all of the collections that seemed to veer towards the artistic sex worker angle when it came to certain pieces of furniture in the houses, but the pictures seemed so casual for the most part. These sex workers were shown as normal people like anyone else who work at a much different profession than the rest. That was the message I saw in the collections I looked at and it spoke out really strongly.
Another interesting thing Varner decided to place in the middle room of the exhibition was a table and a bookshelf full of books talking about sex workers and brothels. I thought this was a nice touch to accentuate the point she was making through her photographs. I also thought this added a good touch of interactivity in the exhibition. People were welcome to sit down, read a book, and look at the pictures. I’m sure that Varner was aiming for the audience to do some comparison of the books and the pictures she showed. It was a very clever move she made with that addition.
Overall, I think that this exhibition was very intriguing to look at in itself. I definitely took my time examining each collection of photographs on the wall. I can appreciate Varner’s work since she chose to hone in on a topic that no one really talks about. I think that brings a truly challenging goal, but she managed to make her message to the audience very clear in my opinion.