Birgit Gehrt collaborating with The Body Positive and The Tides Center (fiscal sponsor)
Award: $35,000 Visual Arts Grant awarded in 2002
Exhibited: October 2005 and after
Body hatred, lack of self-esteem and the rise of eating disorders in the nation’s youth are alarming national problems. Birgit Gerht collaborated with participants in The Body Positive’s programs for women and girls who are combating eating disorders, body distortion, and low self-esteem to gather young women’s stories and, with their guidance, create a series of unconventional garment sculptures and accessories. Some pieces were wearable and others purely sculptural. The finished works were and continue to be exhibited widely in galleries, academic settings, and at conferences.
The artist and organization’s shared goal was to exhibit the garment pieces in an installation so that diverse audiences could be confronted by and interact with provocative images of body issues. “Alterations” also reflected The Body Positive’s history and mission about how to educate people on healthy body esteem.
Raised in Germany and moving to the United States in 1990, Birgit Gehrt’s work has explored themes of home and domesticity, and definitions of place and community. While living in Los Angeles, she became fascinated with maps, the layout of urban spaces, and the meaning of cities. She has frequently worked with fabric as a medium.
Director Connie Sobczak founded The Body Positive, a grass-roots, community-based organization, in 1996 with the mission of empowering people of all ages, especially youth, to celebrate their natural sizes and shapes. The Body Positive makes presentations to schools, parent groups, and health organizations.