May 20

Coming Soon: Safety in Numbers

A new iterative, participatory performance and installation is set to debut in SLU.

What’s in a haircut? Seattle-based artist Molly Jae Vaughan believes one’s hair is full of aesthetic beauty. And your hair can be a vehicle for social justice too.

In her upcoming exhibition at MadArt Seattle, Vaughan will invite patrons to participate in social justice via haircut. She’ll offer volunteers a haircut identical to her own as an act of trans allyship. But not just any haircut — Vaughan will restrict her offerings to the traditional bob. She focuses on this style because it has disrupted gender conventions and for its evolution as a symbol of femininity in contemporary western culture.

The artist intends to demonstrate how the power of anonymity can allow people to move through society without harassment. Vaughan, who is an Assistant Professor of Art at Bellevue College, created Project 42, a series of works dedicated to memorializing the lives of murdered transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Emily Kelly, Executive Director and Curator at MadArt, is excited to have Vaughan and her work at the studio.

“As a multi-disciplinary artist, Molly utilizes a variety of media, with strong conceptual intent to create powerful, transformative, and educational experiences for her viewers. It was after seeing her ongoing Project 42, which memorializes transgender murder victims, at the Bainbridge Island Art Museum, that I understood her capability of working sculpturally, and at a larger scale. Safety in Numbers is a continuation of an ongoing performance and installation, but at MadArt she expands on this work to include aspects of other projects. This, in addition to anti-trans legislative activity happening across the country, contributed to wanting to provide a platform to share this work,” Kelly said.

In addition to this interactive portion, patrons can expect MadArt’s studio to include functional elements of a salon to set the stage of the performance, plus additional areas for activation and secondary programming. Vaughan will also include large abstract panels and display designs based on places of personal importance to her.

Abstract painting in pinks and blues and yellows.

Safety in Numbers is an ambitious project, and though the Open Studio period is much shorter than our standard exhibitions, I think it will be exciting to see how quickly the space is transformed. Additionally, Molly does a lot of education-based work around her exhibitions, and I look forward to conversations that will take place during her work. I also highly encourage visitors to come for the Opening Performance on June 2, anytime from 6-8pm, and subsequent performances that will take place throughout the month of June,” Kelly said.

The open studio portion of Safety in Numbers runs from May 23–June 1 and the exhibition will run June 3 to July 2, Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 5pm.

Story by Ethan Chung & photographs credited to Safety in Numbers, KillJoy Collective, Portland OR, 2017 & Biographical Geography, Courtesy of the Artist.

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle