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Curated by Marisa Caichiolo with the assistance of LewaNana Pinkney from the Getty Undergraduate Internship Program


Opening Reception September 10, 2022, 5 - 8:30pm

Exhibition September 10 - October 23, 2022

Poeter’s reconstruction of social stigmas is created to “make people feel strong emotions with soft materials”.


Irma Sofía is a multidisciplinary artist who works with textile in all its forms, fabric, garments, embroidery and woven materials. The art of constructing is evident in her production, since most of the fabrics are recycled and assembled as part of collages, sometimes incorporating other disciplines such as painting and photography. Throughout her career, she has regarded textiles as a manufactured material that protects, shapes and defines social, cultural and economic standards.


In line with her prior work, Poeter once again addressed a common misconception through this event: the fact textiles traditionally lie within the female realm, or are considered craft rather than art. Historically, men have benefited from male privilege. This has generated a model of male dominance that permeates all areas of societal structure (political, economic and cultural), legitimizing a form of power exercised by men and perpetuating it from generation to generation. The key to hegemonic masculinity is power over others, whether it is over women or other men. Poeter is studying and researching, paying close attention to changes in attitudes towards gender specific roles and behaviors, as well as the perceptions of gender hierarchies, inviting the communities to rethink masculinity together, understanding that we all have the feminine and masculine energy within ourselves.


While in residence at Building Bridges Art Exchange, Poeter held a series community-centered workshops urging participants to rethink and propose a new conception of masculinity, one that’s more vulnerable and stripped of what she calls “the violent gender binary”. In fact, addressing the constraints of traditional gender roles and questioning our patriarchal society were at the core of the workshops. For some of the workshops, like in the case of “We Wear the Pants”, the artist invited participants to deconstruct the patriarchy, by cutting pants into pieces and redecorating to reflect their desires and feelings.


These bilingual workshops consisted of storytelling and sewing circles, serving as a space which not only activated the senses, but also provided a healing opportunity. The workshops provided a safe space for community members to talk about mental, gender and racial issues, allowing them to work towards recovery together from the personal and social problems caused by the pandemic. Recovering trust in others was precisely one of the artist’s objectives in framing the event as a community healing process.


As a result of these workshops, the artist created a series of works using words and phrases, story-based installations and other artworks using her preferred media: textile. These works, along with some of the pieces created by participants during the workshops in the frame of her residency program at BBAX, will be featured at this exhibition. In the main gallery, the textile and mixed media pieces belong to the artist’s recent series of two and three-dimensional works, entitled New Man: A Woman’s gaze. The works in the project rooms, are the result of the community workshops.


The BBAX residency program with artist Irma Sofía Poeter was an invitation to build a nurturing culture, draw connections between gender norms and gender violence, and create an environment where everyone feels responsible for making our communities safe. At BBAX, we are committed to working with community members to build simple language to describe the impact of patriarchal messages, provide tools and a space for changing behaviors, and foster relationships for practicing these skills.


Workshops supported in part by Santa Monica Repertory Theater and Red Hen Press

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