Caleb Cole: To Be Seen
Artist Caleb Cole has recently opened the exhibition, To Be Seen, at the Kayafas Gallery in Boston, running through April 8th, 2017. Caleb’s photographic practice has a long history of examining ephemera, objects, and clothing for untold histories and new incarnations. His new project considers femininity in a male world and the concept that masculinity masks opportunities to experience a wider range of emotions and experiences.
Born in Indianapolis, Caleb Cole is a former altar server, scout, and 4-H Grand Champion in Gift Wrapping. His mother instilled in him a love of garage sales and thrift stores, where he developed a fascination with the junk that people leave behind. Cole is a 2015 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow, 2013 Hearst 8×10 Biennial Winner, 3-time Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Winner, 2011 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award winner, 2011 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship Finalist, 2009 Artadia Award winner, and a 2009 Photolucida Critical Mass finalist. He exhibits regularly at a variety of national venues and has held solo shows in Boston, New York, Chicago, and St. Louis, among others. His work is in the permanent collections of Brown University Art Museum and Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. He is represented by Gallery Kayafas, Boston.
To Be Seen
Men’s fear of appearing feminine is in part a fear of appearing at all, of being seen, looked at and objectified in the way that women are on a daily basis. To be seen is to be known, but also to be vulnerable, to risk judgment. Masculinity can act as armor against that exposure, but masculinity’s protective fortress can also be a prison that cuts men off from others and themselves.
The work in To Be Seen questions men’s and my own relationship with femininity, as well as the ways that beauty is gendered and which bodies have access to it. When femininity’s value is dismissed, characterized as frivolous, artificial, weak, manipulative, and irrational, not only does this serve to disempower women, but everyone suffers. By denying their own feminine inclinations, men lose out on the full range of emotions and experiences available to them, which can result in isolation, shame, and rage. To Be Seen is not only about this loss, but about drawing from the strength of femmes of all genders across history and seeking to retain the joy in queerness, transness, and femininity.
“We must rightly recognize that feminine expression is strong, daring, and brave […] In a world awash in antifeminine sentiment, we understand that embracing and empowering femininity can potentially be one of the most transformative and revolutionary acts imaginable.”
-Julia Serano, Whipping Girl
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