Olivia Freitas

Sociology sophomore Olivia Freitas’ artwork, featured in the exhibit, aims to embody the divine feminine.

Where is the love? On Wednesday, the love was in room 3A and 3B of the Student Union where the Gender Equity Center displayed the artwork of SJSU students’ and alumni.

The theme of the art gallery was to showcase gender and body positivity.

Sociology senior Marlysha Nicolaides, who is also an intern at the Gender Equity Center, put together the art gallery after hosting a similar event last year.

“I had an identity art gallery last year. It was a little bit more broad,” Nicolaides said. “I had it in the Mosaic Center. I had like five artists, super small and had like no experience with art planning.”

The turnout was much larger for this year’s gender equity and body positivity art gallery compared to last year’s identity art gallery.

More than 100 students registered through the SAMMY app to attend the event.

Attendees discussed with the featured artists about their works.

One of the artists was digital media art freshman Hana Garcia, who had one painting displayed.

Her acrylic painting was of a woman lying down with her hair curled out and flowers painted throughout the background.

Garcia said she draws a lot of inspiration from artists that she sees on the internet, such as Elly Smallwood and Robin Sealark.

“[Smallwood] has this incredible ability of very loose painting and especially because she focuses on females and just femininity in general,” said Garcia. “Her work is just very gorgeous to me.”

She really loved the idea of flowers and the association with femininity in her painting.

This was the Calexico native’s first time displaying her artwork at an event. She was delighted that she received a lot positive feedback from spectators.

Another artist who displayed their artwork was sociology sophomore Olivia Freitas. She had three pieces of art displayed at the gallery.

Freitas’ first artwork was an old skateboard that she turned into a piece about the use of marketing of women. She used materials from Circle-A, her favorite skate shop located in downtown San Jose.

Her second work of art was a painting of a woman that represented a divine feminine.

“Everything we experience in the universe is through women,” Freitas said.

Inspired by her love for women, Freitas’ goal in her watercolor painting was to show the life force that women possess.

She wanted to embody the symbol of divine feminine outreach.

Freitas’ third displayed artwork was a pencil drawing of Audre Lorde, an African-American lesbian feminist who was popular in the 1950s.

Freitas wrote at the top of the frame the phrase “Your silence will not protect you,” which is a famous saying by Lorde from her book “The Cancer Journals.”

“[Lorde] inspires me to just not be quiet, to just speak from my heart and not feel like any social situation can deny me from just speaking,” said Freitas.

Freitas began painting at the age of two after being encouraged by her grandfather. She was delighted from the reactions she received from observers.

“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback which makes me feel really good,” said Freitas. “I have never shown my art before so this is new to me.”

Freitas also stood in the middle of the room and spoke words of gratitude to the audience.

“I’m really happy the [Gender Equity] Center put this on and made it totally open for anybody to just come and express themselves,” said Freitas. “It makes me really happy and makes me want to do this a lot more.”

The work of more than 15 artists were displayed across the room.

Food, music and spoken word filled the room in addition to the artists’ work.

Nicolaides was overjoyed with how the event unfolded.

“I’m happy with how it turned out. I heard a lot of good things,” Nicolaides said.

Nicolaides also expressed the possibility of having the event again next year.

While Nicolaides will be graduating this semester, a majority of the programming board of the Gender Equity Center are freshmen and sophomores.

Therefore, fans of gender and body positivity artworks can look forward to having another art gallery again next year.

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