Challenging beauty: ‘Perceive Me’ opens its doors for the Fine Arts Gallery

Named after the Lizzo song, Good as Hell by Debbie Korbel presents Kristine Schomaker with wings and a crown.

The Ronald H. Silverman Fine Arts Gallery has opened its doors again for the first exhibit of the Spring semester: “Perceive Me,” curated by Kristine Schomaker.

 The exhibit explores societal issues of body image. Schomaker presents what she calls her “plus-size body” through the eyes of 60 artists in the gallery. The pieces range from sculptures, photos and paintings throughout revealing Schomaker’s naked body.

 In an interview with the UT, the director of the gallery, Mika Cho, discussed the emphasis of nudity used.

“There’s a lot of nudity, but when it shows in a public place, [people can think] it’s pornographic. The gallery is not like that,” said Cho. “The focus is not on looks. It’s beyond that.”

 One piece Cho pointed to was by Austin Young who featured Schomaker in neon yellow heels. Those very shoes are presented alongside the piece. She noted society’s views on gender, sexuality and body image as presented by Schomaker’s exhibit challenges the idea of beauty.

 In an open letter about the exhibit, provided to the UT by Cho, Schomaker said she “came away with excitement” after producing “Perceive Me.”

 “As I modeled in many different poses, I felt glamorous, classy, beautiful and seen,” wrote Schomaker in September 2019. “I began a journey of self-acceptance and even appreciation for the woman I am.”

 Cho promoted the idea of students having a cultural experience at Cal State LA by tying the exhibit to the gallery’s mission. For the director, she hopes it “brings the community together” and reminds students to have a “healthy mind, body and spirit.”

 Cho also mentioned guest speakers will come to discuss the exhibit and the art within it.

 “Artist Talk with Alexandra Grant” is on Feb. 2 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. while “Artist Talk with Leslie Labowitz-Starus” is set for Feb. 16, also from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

 The closing reception will also feature an artist panel on Feb. 22, again, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

 “Perceive Me” is currently open at the Ronald H. Silverman Fine Arts Gallery from Jan. 21 to Feb. 24. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m.