For Kirkwood, Beauty Is a Relative Concept

Posted: February 23, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ryan Effgen

Artist Larry Kirkwood uses art to show what human beings really look like. His exhibition, the “Body Image Project,” consists of finished plaster and resin casts taken directly from a person’s body. His aim is to change the way we perceive others and ourselves and to affirm the fact that our physical appearance is okay. His work will be on display today and tomorrow, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Johnson Center, Room 116.

This exhibition falls at the cusp of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, and Kirkwood sees the project as relevant to both. “There is more division in this country now than I can remember,” says Kirkwood. “We divide by gender, we divide by race. If you feel the need to divide people up, why not do it based on reliable people and unreliable people?”

Kirkwood’s art stands in opposition to the idea that there is a correct body type. The casts feature bodies of all shapes and sizes, including casts taken of women who have had mastectomies. “The mastectomy pieces are as important as any of them. It is a reality that many women have to deal with. It’s important that the work be seen,” says Kirkwood.

Since 1993 when he began this project, Kirkwood has made casts of 483 people; 20 of these casts will be featured in his exhibit at Mason. In addition to the exhibition, an opportunity to meet the artist is scheduled for tomorrow from 5 to 6 p.m. in Johnson Center, Assembly Room F.

This event is sponsored by Health Education Services and Eating Disorders and Body Image Concerns Task Force, as part of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Positive Body Image Week, Women’s History Month, and Black History Month.

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