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'Hormone Show' opens at UWS

An exhibit that elicited knowing giggles, outright laughs and quiet contemplation opened at the Kruk Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Superior on Saturday.

An exhibit that elicited knowing giggles, outright laughs and quiet contemplation opened at the Kruk Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Superior on Saturday.
Called "The Hormone Show," the exhibit features works by 16 women artists addressing the theme of the impact of hormones on their lives.
The idea to mount a show on hormones and a woman's life was the brainchild of potter Martye Allen.
"I've been going through some major-league hormonal trauma in the last year," Allen said.
The effects have been physically and psychologically difficult for her.
At one point last summer, "I was just at the end of my rope," she said. "So I decided that I was going to build a shrine to my hormones and get on their good side by doing that and maybe they'd ease up on me a little bit."
She said she told her therapist about the idea. "She laughed," Allen said. "And then she said it would make a great exhibit. That just lit a fire under me, and I started calling people."
The response was overwhelming. Allen said that every woman she asked said she'd love to be in the show.
The result is a potpourri of styles, media and images that speak to a woman's world. Many are paintings, but some are multimedia pieces.
"I was asked to do a piece that reflected my personal view," said Christal McIntyre, who is a massage therapist in Duluth and created a multi-media piece. "I've had nightmares about sharing this. It's so personal, but because the experience of hormones is so powerful, I agreed to submit a piece."
McIntyre said hormones are a critical key to all life on Earth. "Without hormones, we wouldn't exist," she said. "The whole chain of life is dependent on hormones. This is an honoring and celebration of life made manifest."
Too much or too little of one hormone can wreak havoc on women's lives, Allen said.
Although men, too, have what she called hormonal issues, "women are just more controlled by their hormones. It's something we're so profoundly aware of because every month we have to deal with what our hormones are doing. This is something that is in your face at certain times of your life."
Each women artist has her own viewpoint in the show. "I can't say everyone is speaking with one voice -- they're speaking with 17 different voices," Allen said.
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Amy Rusch, for example, said after her twins were born, her whole hormonal system was thrown out of whack. "I'm just starting to get back on my feet," she said. She said when Allen asked her to be in the show, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. Her piece, entitled "A Balancing Act," is the first time she has created a free-standing sculpture, and it has reinvigorated her, she said.
Painter Amy Wilson also speaks to balance. She has created three paintings, "Not Enough," "Balance" and "Too Much," to express the power of hormones on a woman's body.
"My piece is an attempt to explain what hormones are," she said. "How to be in balance is what we are all striving for."
Ellie Erickson, who used to be a he until she underwent a sex change operation several years ago, said she has experienced both sides of the fence.
Coming out was very difficult, she said. "You switch your fight from internal to external," she said. "I fought with myself for years because I didn't like who I was. Now, I have to deal with prejudice. You become more a symbol than you are a person."
She said that "people get really weird around sex and gender. They think there's a huge difference between the two, but there's isn't that much."
Her self-portraits, which speak to her experiences, were difficult to do, the former photographer said. "I've never hung self-portraits up before."
This show, more than anything else, should bring new awareness of the female psyche, said Superior artist Rosie Seymour in an artist statement submitted for the exhibit.
"We're all putting ourselves out there when we show our work," Allen said.
Alison Aune, for example, is showing a painting she did when her mother was dying of breast cancer. "I was very worried when I painted this," she said in her artist's statement. "This is a painting about the fears and mystery of breast cancer for all women. Where is the cancer coming from? Is it from the environment or from hormones, and who will be next?"
The show expresses the many faces of women, they said.
"It's everything from serious to fads, to 'whoa' to funny," said Erika Mock, a fiber artist and weaver who has a piece in the exhibit. "It's a good show."
The exhibit will be up through Feb. 9.

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