‘What makes you think you’re a man?’ That’s the question being posed by local artist/director Matt Gould for a visual art project set to be unveiled next summer at the Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery.
In creating the work, Gould is looking for input from local men no matter what they’re age, backround, race or sexual orientation. Men from all walks of life are invited to attend an information meeting at the Museum on Oct. 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. to see what it’s all about.
“There’s going to be beer and potato chips,” adds Gould with a laugh during his description of the evening. But the creative process has already begun.
“I’ve already started to talk with a few guys and had a lot of interesting conversations.”
The finished product, which will consist of a series of large-scale textile portraits of a cross section of men from Central Alberta, will also be shown at the Alberta Craft Council in Edmonton.
“I want it to have two levels,” he said. “One will be portraiture, and the other from conversations about being a man. A man’s sense of successes, failures, inadequacies, triumphs — whatever they are. I will use that to superimpose my editorial comment about you as a man and your sense of the world.”
It’s a fascinating concept, as Gould explains, because men view the measure of masculinity in so many different ways. As the brochure outlining the project explains, ‘Are you defined by what’s between your legs? Your ability to kill things and hang them on your cave wall? The number of tears you shed while watching Terms of Endearment? The number of tears you don’t shed after being slammed into the boards? By how much money you earn?
“Are you defined by who sets your pulse racing or your ability (or inability) to tear apart a sink, a car or (fill in the blank)?”
For Gould, who is also the artistic director with Red Deer’s Tree House Youth Theatre, the project represents not just a fresh artistic venture but a personal milestone as well.
“This is an important step in my career – it’s important for me on a personal level and as an artist to really kick it through the goal posts.”
Meanwhile, Gould is also excited about the possibilities of what the final results will be. “It’s hard for me to pin it down and say exactly what it’s going to be until I start to work and play around with the different layers.”
It also won’t be an exhibit that only men will primarily enjoy – Gould said women will likely find plenty of interesting aspects to it as well.
“Lots of women will be able to relate to the stuff we’ll be talking about, either as partners of the men or just from their own viewpoint.”
For more information about the project, check out www.mattgould.com/WMYT. You can also email Gould at firstname.lastname@example.org.