Twenty-Three Sisters

August 8 - September 30, 2014 at Gallery 1308 in Madison, Wisconsin

For those of us without sisters, the intimate bond between women with a shared childhood is elusive. Popular culture depicts sisterhood as sacred, but we remain ignorant of its realities. Among friends and family, we are voyeurs to conversations conducted in shorthand. We watch others exchange items lent, borrowed, and forgotten, manifestations of a relationship in which the line drawn between two women often unites more than it divides.

Individually and collectively, as women and artists, many of us search for this camaraderie with other women. In feminist circles, convents, and sororities alike, the term “sisterhood” represents an active and inclusive bond; to identify a female non-relative as a sister is to elevate that relationship. The term is aspirational, representing a unique platonic connection made possible by overlapping experiences in gender and upbringing.

In this exhibition, twenty-three sisterless artists have responded to the absence of these relationships. These artists understand sisterhood in different ways: many define themselves as entirely sisterless; some have gained sisters through marriage; a few have step- or half-sisters. This exhibition does not aim to define a hierarchy of true sisterhood—rather, it seeks to raise questions about the dynamics of gender and family life that inform our personal identities.

When framed as a lack thereof, the experience of being female without a sister is inherently exclusionary. By coming together to reflect on these relationships, we have reversed our roles. In this space, we are privileged, related.

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Presented in conjunction with the Wisconsin Union Directorate Art Committee.

Special thanks to Olivia Baldwin, Kelsey Burnham, Simone Doing, Hannah Graber, Tracy Honn, Sigrid Hubertz, Andy Lang, Shireen Matthews, Briony Morrow-Cribbs, and Robin Schmoldt.

© 2014 Katie Garth and WUD Art Committee. Artworks represented within this catalogue are the sole property of each respective artist, and may not be reproduced without permission.