When Maggie Dunlap moved to New York two years ago, she did not expect cat calls on her daily commutes around the city. The artist raised in South Florida says that walking around New York City did not afford her the same protection she had while driving her car in Miami.
Dunlap, who has drawn from friends’ experiences, as well as her own, created Tender, her first solo exhibit, which focuses on girl culture and adolescence. A self-proclaimed feminist, Dunlap hopes her work — showing through Nov. 13 at &gallery in Little Haiti — will be a starting point for a larger dialogue about feminism and what it means to be a girl in our society.
“Maggie’s work is powerful. As a woman I support her, especially because she is advocating for women,” said Paula Fera, a fan of Dunlap’s work. “She is a Miamian and we have to support our local artists.”
Using various media, Dunlap references topics such as sexuality, assault and innocence.
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“Not all of my work is about puberty or coming of age, but some of it is,” said Dunlap, 19. “ I think its important to talk about because it can be an extremely alienating time for young people, especially girls. You begin to be treated less like a person and more like a body.”
Dunlap is studying visual and critical studies at The School of Visual Arts in New York. Recently, she’s been learning how to spin and dye her own yarn and has also incorporated embroidery into her work.
“Embroidery has been associated with women and domestic life,” Dunlap said. “Some consider it a craft, not art, because of the ties it shares with a community that was considered a minority.”
Although Dunlap says her work is personal, she prefers to expose larger truths using concepts anyone can relate to.
One of her text pieces, TAKE UP TOO MUCH SPACE, stemmed from a conversation with some colleagues where she found that most women have had negative emotions regarding their body image. The message is meant to encourage women to own their own space, both bodily and in their public personas.
Women are often encouraged to reduce themselves, Dunlap said.
“Something is wrong with our society that all these girls feel this way. Once you grow up, you realize most girls have dealt with some of these problems,” Dunlap said. “It’s comforting to know you’re not the only one, but it’s sad because they also had to go through that.”