Barbie: Dreaming of a Female Future

The Birmingham Museum of Art is proud to announce its upcoming exhibition, Barbie: Dreaming of a Female Future, an immersive experience where visitors can explore their relationship with Barbie through a re-imagined, modern dream house. The exhibition will be open free of charge to the public on August 10th and will run through January 26, 2020. A special opening night will take place during the BMA’s Art On The Rocks event on August 9th from 7-11pm with a $25 admission.

Barbie: Dreaming of a Female Future takes a critical look at Barbie on the occasion of her 60th anniversary. In the past six decades, Barbie’s many careers and enduring independence have influenced the dreams and imaginations of young people around the world. At the same time, her impossible appearance and physique promoted narrow and unattainable body ideals. “This exhibition is intended to celebrate imagination and ambition while acknowledging Barbie’s role in perpetuating unrealistic and limited perceptions of beauty,” says Hallie Ringle, Hugh Kaul Curator of Contemporary Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art. “Children have an extraordinary ability to dream and aspire, and I hope this life-size dream house allows visitors to reconnect with that part of themselves in the exhibition and beyond.”

The works in the exhibition represent artists’ interpretations of Barbie and are presented as part of this life-size dream house. Sheila Pree Bright’s photography examines the limited standards of beauty that Barbie represents. Lauren Kelley’s video creates narratives for Barbie as she explores racial identity through a series of vignettes that are at once humorous, absurd, and mundane. The dream house itself, titled Barbie: Dreaming of a Female Future, is created by artists and interior designers, Studio BOCA, and is furnished with objects created by women artists and makers that bring the space to life.

“As a design team of two sisters, our collective memory of Barbie as an unstoppable advocate for female imagination guided our vision for this modern day dream house. The decision to use all women designers in the dream house was a natural one, as Barbie has always surrounded herself with her girlfriends,” says Kate Taylor Boehm of Studio BOCA. “We hope that the space imparts the same freedom to dream that Barbie gives to so many young girls, while also showcasing the dreams that have become reality in the work of these female designers.”

In taking the place of Barbie in her home, visitors can consider their own relationship with the doll and the ways in which she may have impacted their perceptions of self. The dream house highlights the importance of imagination and functions as a welcoming space, one where everyone– people of all genders, sexualities, and identities– can come to dream of a female future.

Participating artists, designers, and women-owned businesses include: Aelfie, Addie Chapin, Calico Wallpaper, David Levinthal, Eskayel, Estudio Persona, Flat Vernacular, Greta de Parry, Grace Hartigan, Lauren Kelley, Kim Markel, Natalie Baxter, Quiet Town, Range Projects, Ruby Star Society, Sazerac Stitches, Sheila Pree Bright, Stray Dog Designs, Studio BOCA, and Tamar Mogendorff.

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