“LOBBY” EXHIBITION SERIES LOCATED INSIDE A COLUMBUS PLANNED PARENTHOOD HEALTH CENTER, 2018-19
"Lobby," is a year-long exhibition series held at the Planned Parenthood East surgical center in Columbus, OH. Three, approximately 3-4 months long, two-person exhibitions have been scheduled to run from December 2018-December 2019. This project was organized by artists, Melissa Vogley Woods and Agnes Ray with the support and partnership of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio.
Ray and Vogley-Woods are using the vehicle of the art exhibition as a form of collaborative practice. Beyond a curatorial project, “Lobby” is a piece challenging the rarefied position of contemporary art in society. Vogley-Woods and Ray are offering another level of care to the women and girls who utilize Planned Parenthood. In this medical, clinical setting, artwork is meant to support the healing and recovery of the women and girls it serves.
Unless one is a cultural worker in the art field, contemporary art is not encountered in one’s daily life. In our society contemporary art exists in specialized institutions such as the gallery or the museum space that have been purposely built and designed to showcase, support, and validate it. This art is then only encountered on the art’s terms. The viewer has made the choice to enter the museum/gallery in order to experience art. The artworks included in Lobby will have no such coddling. These artworks are expected to serve the unique needs of viewers undergoing a highly charged and stressful life event. Just entering the building one must pass protesters on the sidewalk and be buzzed through a series of locked doors and secure spaces designed to protect the staff and clients from potential violence. Beyond the physical constraints of the space itself, artwork must be sensitive to the emotional state of the clients who use the space. Artwork must be screened for triggering subject matter and/or materials. Artists were carefully paired to ensure that each exhibition was thematically strong on its own merits as well as contributing to the overarching principles of the project as a whole.
Newly elected Ohio governor, Mike DeWine has publicly stated that he will “absolutely” sign a controversial “heartbeat bill”. The bill would make abortions illegal once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This is an example of a patriarchal ideology devaluing the personhood of women by subsuming their agency to their biology. Our society shames women and girls for having an unwanted pregnancy and despises them if they make the personal and private decision to end that pregnancy. Today, fine art has become a luxury item for the elite, a financial asset to be protected. In Lobby we put art to work, asking it to hold our gaze and honor our choice.