Girl You Want

The inaugural exhibition at ArtYard’s new arts complex at 13 Front Street!

May 1—Aug 1, 2021

What’s a girl? What do you expect from a girl or want girlhood to be? How are girls un/made? Are they pieced together, imagined, constructed? This exhibition examines what girling looks and feels like through a range of representational strategies, from portraiture to speculative narrative; from dress to interiors and the prettified materials of commodification and colonization. In this show “girl” and “girly” are not offered as stable or essential but are rather understood as shifting states untethered to “sex” or even age.

“Through the windows of race, gender, class, sexuality, and dis/ability, people perceive and are perceived,” says J. Vanessa Lyon. “Media shapes our assumptions and children are regarded by others and themselves as the good or bad or real or best kind of girl.”

Girl You Want gives onto this fraught expanse of coming of age. In diverse often subtle forms the exhibition’s nine artists conjure up temporalities that, depending on one’s circumstances, can end traumatically, too soon—or imperceptibly—before awkwardly (or seamlessly) segueing into adulthood. While far from comprehensive of the countless embodiments of girlhood and youthful femininity across identity and experience, the exhibition asks: What leaves girls wanting? What do we want from them? What is it like to mature or grow out of girlhood—or to have one’s growth undermined by it? Gazing back as we move inexorably forward, this ambitious multimedia show provides an intergenerational response.