'Converging Voices': Seen but not seen at Hofstra Museum exhibit

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Editor’s note: Braithwaite is a senior at Elmont High School. She wrote this review as part of Hofstra University’s recent High School Summer Journalism Institute. It is the second in a series of Institute participants’ works that the Herald will publish in the coming days and weeks.

The Hofstra University Museum exhibit, “Converging Voices: Gender and Identity,” was small, but its art was massive and beautiful. The art really resonated with me, with the theme of each piece coming together to illustrate a central message. One piece in particular connected with me deeply.

It was a series of photographs by Martine Gutierrez, called “Line Up 2,” “Line Up 3” and “Line Up 5.” At first glance you notice only women and the similar color patterns in each photograph, but a short look at the pictures is not enough to truly decipher their meaning. If you squint a bit harder and take a step forward, you notice that all of the subjects in the photographs are not really women, except one in each. They are mostly mannequins that surround Gutierrez, the only living figure in the pictures. The difficulty in seeing Gutierrrez as the sole human in the photos adds to the theme of seen, but not seen. The mannequins and Gutierrez are caricatures, such as promiscuous blondes in “Line Up 2” and schoolgirls in “Line Up 3." The photos show how easily people assimilate into groups. Then it becomes hard to see who they are.

“Converging Voices” will run through Dec. 15 at Hofstra’s Emily Lowe Gallery.