The Wolfsonian Museum-FIU. Women’s Work / Men’s Work: Labor and Gender in America

From Jan 20th through Apr 25th, 2010

altThe Wolfsonian – Florida International University presents Women’s Work / Men’s Work: Labor and Gender in America, an exhibition that explores how the sexual division of labor in America has been represented in art, propaganda, and advertising. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, is on view in The Wolfsonian Teaching Gallery at The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University.

Until relatively recently, notions of the kinds of work that are appropriate for men and for women have been quite distinct. Rooted in field, factory, and mine, “male” labor has often been understood as embodying strength and skill, while “women’s work” has been associated with domesticity, reproduction, and caretaking. Focusing on the United States in the first half of the twentieth century, the exhibition invites students and other gallery visitors to consider how the different work experiences of men and women have been portrayed by artists and designers in a variety of media.

The more than two dozen objects on display include paintings, posters, prints, and photographs, as well as ephemeral items. They reveal how visual representations marked particular forms of labor – and attributes of laborers – as either male or female, but also how these categories began to erode under pressure from industrial expansion, new consumption and family patterns, and – above all – the needs of a wartime economy. These works give evidence of the tensions that arose when deeply set notions of proper gender roles collided with the changing realities of labor in America.

This exhibition inaugurates the Frost Museum’s collaboration with The Wolfsonian in creating an on-campus teaching gallery, in which The Wolfsonian’s collection can be presented at a site that is near the geographic center of FIU’s academic community.

Wolfsonian Museum Teaching Gallery at the Frost Museum
10975 SW 17th Street
Miami, FL 33199

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