Maxine Helfman, Racial and Gender Identity


I don’t know if she would consider herself an activist, but I find her works startling…and that after all is what activist art needs to do. Helfman begins with Dutch and Flemish paintings and the substitutes the sitter for men and women of color. As viewers it shakes us up. Makes you look twice and reconsider the role of race in our culture. She had an exhibition here in Santa Barbara a couple of years ago at Wall Space Gallery [maybe 2013]. Beautiful photographs!

She also did a very interesting series of photograph of young boys who were asked to pick a girl’s outfit/dress and pose for a photograph. These amazing photographs reveal so much about gender identity and how our culture reads/defines masculine and feminine characteristics.


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