Confronting The Normalization Of Sexual Violence: “Archival Degradation” Opens At Michener Gallery

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Viewers of the “Archival Degradation” exhibit take in the pieces within the gallery.

If you’re looking for new art to experience, “Archival Degradation”, a brand new exhibit, is now showing in the Mari Michener Gallery.

The Michener Library is presenting this exhibit in collaboration with University of Northern Colorado art student Macey Boren and the Assault Survivors Advocacy Program, a confidential support group on campus. 

Boren is a fourth-year student double majoring in studio art and psychology at UNC. She has been professionally exhibiting her artwork throughout Colorado for seven years.

On Jan. 24, a reception was held at the gallery. At this event, patrons were able to experience the gallery while Macey talked about the importance and meaning of what she had created.

Boren utilizes art for self-expression and to address social issues that she finds important. Some of the issues that have been explored within her art are the stigmas surrounding mental health, marginalization of the LGBTQ+ community and misogyny in visual culture. 

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Although painting is Boren’s primary medium, she also enjoys working with other materials and crafting small handmade items like jewelry. 

“I like to encourage viewers to look deeper and to be very critical of what’s around us,” Boren said.

“Archival Degradation” is inspired by Boren’s research of art history and personal experiences existing as a woman in the fine arts industry. 

This is the first time that the Mari Michener Gallery has displayed this type of exhibition. The content and themes explored in the different art pieces make the experience unique. This is the first time that a solo exhibition by a current UNC student has been displayed at the gallery.

The exhibit is made up of 3D art sculptures, painted canvases and the Clothesline Project, which is a project used to increase awareness while addressing violence against women by providing them to express emotion by designing a shirt. The gallery confronts the normalization of sexual violence in western art. It interrogates deep-rooted themes of misogyny in which men are the authority and women are the objects they use to create it. 

When deciding what art pieces to include in the gallery, Boren was inspired by what society consumes on a daily basis and watching misogyny manifest in visual culture. She said she was also inspired by author Mascushla Robinson. Boren said Robinson helped opened her eyes about the sanitation of sexual violence in museums.

​The first painting in the gallery is called “Prison”. It was started in 2019 and features a black and white faceless little girl with pink colorful flowers popping out of a gas mask. It was first featured at UNC’s Mariani Gallery in April 2022. 

One of her favorite art pieces to create in the exhibit was the “Dragon” canvas. It was Boren’s first time experimenting with laser cutting. The 3D sculptures took between 30 to 50 hours to complete. The different canvases and paintings around the gallery took 20 hours to complete.

​“I want the audience to be very critical of the things we preserve in history and the things we put up on a pedestal,” Boren said when talking about what she wanted viewers to take away from the gallery.

​“Archival Degradation” will remain open to the public through the end of the spring semester.

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