The Divine Feminine takes on Title IX

Art exhibit Divine Feminine opened in Student Center East last Thursday to celebrate women's history month. Photo by Shel Levy | The Signal

A collection of art pieces hung in the heart of Georgia State’s campus, highlighting the historical connection between the Title IX civil rights law and femininity among college women.

The opening night reception created a warm and empowering environment for visiting students last Thursday. During Women’s History Month, the exhibit will display on the third floor of Student Center East in room 306.  

Georgia State senior Diamond Bradley is the curator and founder of the Primary Movement, a creative collective she started in 2018for Georgia State and non-Georgia State artists and creatives to showcase and promote their work.his year is the third “Divine Feminine” exhibit.

The last two galleries displayed themes of self-care and empowerment. The exhibit is used as a platform for all self-identifying women to showcase their knowledge through their work.. In collaboration with the Office of Student Affairs and Assistant Dean of Students Jaray Mazique, Bradley was able to create an exhibit filled with history and feminine culture. 

“The Divine Feminine: Title IX Exhibit” takes gallery visitors through the history of the Title IX law and the impact the law has made on artists in the Atlanta area. The bill was passed in 1972 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs across the U.S. 

Title IX applies to all genders and includes pressing issues, such as a student not having to share classrooms or dorms with their abuser and not being discouraged from continuing their education and schools needing an established procedure of sexual harassment or violence. 

For Bradley, the divine feminine is the foundation of feminine work and thoughts. 

“[Femininity] is divine, it is true to us, and it is what we think is true,” she said. “There is no wrong answer for what is within divine femininity, and there is not one main definition.”

The Divine Feminine exhibit is Bradley’s favorite show to curate because of the vibrant pieces she selects and the different stories each piece tells. She includes how the crowd is invited to this environment that students usually do not see on campus. 

“Since it is created by women that we don’t always get to see, of all age ranges, it brings out a crowd that is very warm and inviting,” Bradley said. “To me, it represents all that women bring into this world.”

After she pickedthe artwork to use, she believed the art would have the depth and meaning she was looking for when envisioning this project. Bradley decided after she installed everything to have a favorite piece or at least a preferred area.

Regardless of picking a favorite, she looked forward to the education visitors wouldreceive about Title IX and taking advantage of the opportunity to raise awareness about the history behind the gender equality movement.

The pieces are hung based on the design in the most simplistic way and built off of the foundation Bradley chose.

“I want to let the story tell itself with a text and artwork base,” Bradley said. 

A chalk wall configured of a timeline of the history of Title IX unveiled the time of history the viewer is in. The wall encourages visitors to take a course of social action: whether it is taking a pledge, writing a beautiful quote or empowering a friend. 

Visitors are able to interact with the exhibit in many ways. Next to each display, a small table sits with two fish bowls on top, students are able to vote on whether or not they were aware of a right the Title IX bill gives to all genders. 

The visitors are asked if they knew that Georgia State must have a procedure for handling complaints of sexual harassment and violence. Then, the visitor would place a pebble provided by the exhibit in a “Yes” or “No” fish bowl. 

“I would hope they take [from visitors] is that women artists matter, women[’s] representation in the arts matters, and you can also create stories through the art and connect,” Bradley said. “It’s just a celebration for women and how this month shouldn’t be the only month that we celebrate.”

According to Bradley, the first two Divine Feminine exhibits on campus had the biggest attendance for a gallery, not just from students but from non-students as well. The artists with pieces on display come from all ages and backgrounds.

The exhibit highlights pieces from Georgia State students, including Magda Dumitrescu, Amirah Smarr, Grace Manga and Brianna Désir. 

In the back corner of the exhibit, Dumitrescu created portraits for the gallery visitors at the opening night reception. For $10, Dumistrescu stood by the first portrait she drew of Bradley and drew visitors sitting nearby. Half of the proceeds went to supporting the Primary Movement.

A local artist known only as Noel displayed her three pieces focusing on her concept of “Vag Art,” creating what she believes as the respect and ownership of femininity. The paintings show the side of a woman some would call obscene, including the censorship of vulvas and sensitive reproductive parts throughout history. 

“I call the pieces the butterfly effect because there is a metamorphosis occurring in the piece just as there is in us, women,” Noel said. “The metamorphosis in the butterfly represents a rejuvenation in the center of femininity.”

As a woman from Trinidad and Tobago, Noel wants her art to be an exact representation of herself and the women around her, which is why she uses her creations to empower others to be proud of what they have. As a mother and aunt of sons and nephews, she wants the men around her to be comfortable with femininity and the “Vag Art” she creates. 

Bradley worked with the archives department to bring archives to the exhibit this year to make the education of the issues more prominent. For women on campus, Title IX is still current in terms of equality. Bradley wants the archives combined with the artwork to show what a woman’s truth is about. 

“What our body means, what our state of mind is, and how we protested and advocated in this law, it will be represented [in the artwork],” Bradley said.