MSUToday
Published: Feb. 26, 2019

Social art pieces are at the forefront for visiting artist and scholar

Contact(s): Kimberly Popiolek College of Arts and Letters office: (517) 432-1561 popiolek@msu.edu

A solo exhibition, titled “The Wash (As It Seams),” by visiting artist and scholar Babette Shaw is now on display at the MSU Union Art Gallery through Friday, March 1. The exhibit includes The Panty Project, Shaw’s ongoing project designed to help individuals and communities heal from gendered and sexual trauma and abuse.

Shaw is a photography-based social practice artist whose work includes fine art photography, sculpture, fiber art, installation and the written or spoken word. Her work, which can be found in private and public collections across the country, addresses issues concerning gender and race constructions, consequential disparities and their intersections in contemporary culture.

During her time at MSU, Shaw invited students and community members to participate in The Panty Project and met with people who shared their stories as part of the ongoing project.

“The idea is to engage individuals, communities and society,” said Shaw. “I invite all to participate in the making of the art and help me say what needs to be said in regards to culture and society. I try to engage and inspire dialogue. It’s not about me — it’s much bigger than me. It’s about humanity.”

As part of The Panty Project, participants who share their stories of gendered transgressions and violent aggressions write a word or phrase onto an undergarment and Shaw embroiders over their word or phrase.

“This project serves to aid in the un-silencing of voices and to offer a step toward healing and transcendence,” Shaw said.

Shaw, who was invited to bring her projects to MSU by Candace Keller, associate professor of African Art and Visual Culture in the Department of Art, Art History and Design, will talk about her social art pieces at an artist lecture at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 26 in MSU’s Natural Science Building in Room 326.

Shaw currently teaches fine art photography and conceptual development at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Alongside her art practice and teaching, she has served on numerous panels for organizations, including the National Center for Research on Women, and has given lectures at various academic and community-based institutions. She received her MFA in photography from the University of Memphis with undergraduate academic pursuits in fine art photography, creative writing and gender studies.

A dress from Babette Shaw's "The Wash (As It Seams)."