The Sheila Johnson Design Galleries at Parsons The New School for Design
Opening reception: Tuesday, April 11, 6-8 p.m.
I Will What I Want: Women, Design, and Empowerment explores the complex and sometimes-contradictory role that design has played from the mid-Twentieth Century, through second wave feminism, to present non-binary intersections in the pursuit of gender expression and equality for those who have uteruses, menstruate, and/or identify as women.
The exhibition features objects, interfaces, and clothing that have sought to enable those who have uteruses, menstruate, or embrace womanhood as independent and creative subjects in a material world largely designed by and for men but consumed by those who identify as women.
Design’s relationship with the individual and with societies is rarely uncomplicated. With the introduction of the contraceptive pill came the rise of laws designed to constrict reproductive rights for people with uteruses; for every breast pump that facilitates new parents’ choices about work and nutrition, there exists a poorly designed familial leave policy; and so many designs “for her,” even for very young girls, come with the baggage of implicit and explicit expectations about class, race, gender performance, labor, and sexuality.
This exhibition begins a dialogue around designs created to emancipate those who menstruate, give birth, and/or identify as women. It asks visitors to contemplate, from their own positions, the ways in which these products, garments, and interfaces have, for better and sometimes for worse, governed, shaped, and facilitated modern and contemporary experiences.
This exhibition is co-organized by independent curators Jimena Acosta and Michelle Millar Fisher (part-time faculty, School of Art and Design History and Theory).