Sarah Fox | Bruisers

  • Opening Reception: Friday, October 25, 7-10pm
  • Exhibition Dates: October 25 - December 15, 2019

In the last year I adopted a son and this amazing, exhausting, life changing event has deeply shifted my work. For the first time in my life, I really started to think about masculinity. As a feminist, I started to deeply question the pressures and constraints gender norms place on little boys so early in their life. Onesies covered with footballs, roaring dinosaurs, the words “Strong” or “Brave” written on them seemed so violent and hard for my sweet, tiny baby. But these are the options given in most stores. Like most parents I constantly think about nurture versus nature and the person my child will grow into. But as an adoptive parent, these questions are even more poignant and pertinent. In an effort to allow my child to bloom into the most beautiful, whole version of himself, I am questioning the ways we teach how to be a boy to little boys.

I’ve used horse hybrids in my work before, as a sort of gateway for little girls to access freedom from princesses and traditional beauty constraints. I am returning to the horse hybrid now in my recent work to again access that freedom for boys. Horses are an in between. They have evolved alongside humans and show up in the earliest visual depictions and stories of life. But they are often genderless. At times the definition of strength and utility, while still being prized for their lithe beauty and grace. Using these horse hybrids opens a space for me to pose tough questions about masculinity and the inherent nature of being a boy. Creating these characters allows me to imagine what it may be like to be a little boy, to try and understand what it must feel like to have pressures that force you to be hard, strong, fast, tough at such an early age. The collages, cyanotypes and animations that fill this exhibition are a result of these questions.

They are also a hope for a future I want for my son. The strange little centaurs that fill the work, fight, play, wrestle; but they also sleep, dream, pick flowers and hug. They are fighters, but they are also lovers. Tender and sweet, but tough and strong. As with femininity, the truth about masculinity and little boys – I imagine – lies in the in-between. Humans are far more complex and beautiful then society’s gender norms allow for.

Bruisers is an exhibition about the nature of little boys and the men that they become. It is an exhibition I made in an attempt to be a better mother and to create a safer world for my son.