An expression of the hidden self: Student’s art exhibition explores identity through women’s lingerie

Visitors wander Chapman Gallery, looking at the pieces made by Jessiva Levey, graduate student in fine arts. (John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

Large pairs of women’s underwear currently adorn the walls of the Mark. A Chapman gallery in Willard Hall. They are accompanied by photographs, sculptures and an arch. These pieces of artwork form the exhibit “Functional Ornamentation.”

“Functional Ornamentation” is the Master of Fine Arts exhibition for Jessica Levey, graduate student in fine arts.

Levey’s MFA exhibition brings to light questions about personality, identity and choice through the medium of women’s lingerie.

The reception for Levy’s show was held on Thursday.

“To me, this exhibit shows how we, as women, display ourselves outwardly, and how we display ourselves for just ourselves,” Levey said.

The exhibit features women’s lingerie of all colors, patterns and fabric types. Each helps portray a different facet of the self.

Visitors wander Chapman Gallery, surveying the pieces made by Jessiva Levey, graduate student in fine arts. (John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

While the exhibit largely focuses on women’s lingerie, it also gives significance to other women’s health items.

In the middle of the exhibit a podium features what looks like small little cups that have been decorated. But upon further inspection, the cups have a deeper meaning.

“These cups are menstrual cups,” Levey said. “Just like underwear, menstrual cups are functional items women need that are not always seen. They are still a part of a woman and are used to show the different personalities of women that are expressed just to themselves.”

Two visitors to the exhibit "Functional Ornamentation" look at menstrual cups. (John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

When asked about her favorite piece, Levey pointed directly to the archway of women’s underwear that welcomes the public in. The archway contains dozens of openings that each contain a pair of women’s underwear. The piece, entitled “Finders Keepers,” includes an invitation for visitors to take a pair of underwear.

“This piece is special to me because of the audience participation,” Levey said. “You already enter the space making your own choice about what to wear.”

Visitors notice the archway in the "Functional Ornamentation" exhibit in Willard Hall. (John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

Levey’s exhibit also uses photographs and videos that she said she believes adds an extra effect to her exhibit. The photographs and videos are also a favorite in her exhibit, along with the archway.

The exhibition is open through Friday.