Professor Virginia Tyler, associate professor in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, was one of 41 women selected to collaborate with a select group of Chinese counterparts to share their visions and voices in “HALF THE SKY: Intersections in Social Practice Art.” This unprecedented cultural exchange is a partnership between the Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA) and LuXun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, China. Professor Tyler exhibited her piece titled Ten Hours Work for Abena Duffee.
“My piece is about a young girl named Abena Duffee,” Tyler said. “She is from a village in Ghana where everyone breaks granite boulders into gravel for a living. Abena had to stop school at age 14 to break gravel full time and help support her family. She breaks 480 lbs in a 10-hour day using a small sledge hammer. The title, Ten Hours' Work for Abena Duffee, is about the value of education for girls and the injustice of Abena having to give up her schooling.”
The exchange draws on Chairman Mao Zedong’s famous statement that “Women hold up half the sky” — a theme that continues to inspire social change across the globe— to explore how art can support these efforts. An important component of WCA's mission is supporting global art activism and recognizing the contributions of women in the arts. This project is a perfect manifestation of this mission.