Performance art piece by Sam Granado for the Feminist Concepts and Strategies studio art class (photo courtesy of Rachel Livedalen).

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A studio art class is letting art spark conversations about gender and feminism on campus.

The class is a special topics course called Feminist Concepts and Strategies taught by Assistant Professor of Art Rachel Livedalen.

“When you’re working with visual art, you’re able to start a conversation; you’re able to explore a big idea in an open-ended way,” said Livedalen. “You’re able to guide the viewer into the conversation or into that dialogue by visual means.”

The female students in the class work on assigned projects as well as their own interdisciplinary work inspired by readings on feminist theory and historical and contemporary examples of feminist artwork.

The work ranges from performance pieces to zines and paintings.

Senior studio art major Olivia Nucci said she took this course to step out of her comfort zone and explore new ideas.

“I feel like a huge part of it has been embracing what it is to be a woman and being proud of our role and maybe figuring out what that role is,” said Nucci.

Senior BFA painting major Michelle Bonilla said the class has become a safe space to engage in free and open conversation about challenging subjects.

“We’ve talked about the election a lot and how our roles as women are really important,” said Bonilla. “So I think from this class I really feel a lot more secure to talk to other people even if we have the same kind of perspective.”

Livedalen said she hopes her students learn to view art making as a way of exploring more complicated ideas. To get more information about the class, listen to the interview with Livedalen below.

Nucci echoed Livedalen. She said the challenging subject matter has allowed her to expand her views on feminism.

“I know this may sound cheesy because you think of feminism and empowerment, but I feel like I’ve been empowered to look at the world from a new perspective and realize just how special it is to be a female,” said Nucci.

The students will be exhibiting their work at the 500X Gallery in Dallas from Nov. 12 to Dec. 4.