Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst’s art exhibit, “Relationship”, was on display for two days before museum officials at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art dawned black curtains covering both entry points to the exhibit located in the gallery room.
Citing controversial content, volunteers from a children’s program at the museum communicated to administrators about difficulties they faced while navigating shared space just outside a room the group uses for projects.
Sheila Roth is one volunteer concerned about how the “graphic” nature of the art depicted in “Relationship” will be interpreted by children as they pass by it. She believes the art depicts content that may impact children negatively and that parents might have concerns over their children’s exposure to such materials.
“It might be disturbing for a young person; as a matter of fact, the same day [“Relationship”] went up, two of the kids were drawing penises on the table. We have never had that before. We don’t teach life drawing to the students here,” Roth said.
Sherri Jones, museum education program coordinator, explained that the children’s program services grade-school children from all over the state. She said she had not received any complaints about the show as of yet.
Kurt Neugebauer, associate director of administration and exhibitions, was against installing curtains when the show was planned, but as the situation with the children’s group developed, installing curtains was a better “preventative” measure than other available options in his opinion. “During open hours, these curtains are not to be drawn… at all,” Neugebauer said. The original plan was to be able to close off the area while children were present.
“The museum’s position,” Neugebauer said, “was to have curtains there where they could be closed during the off-hour young children’s tours and for their activities as they have to pass by.”
Over five-and-a-half years, beginning in 2008, Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst amassed a collection of personal images that have some contemplating just what identity is. After opening April 20 and continuing through June 26, as part of the Queer Productions Series at Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Drucker and Ernst’s photographic collection, “Relationship,” displays the duo’s “opposite-oriented” transition — Ernst female-to-male and Drucker male-to-female.
“I would say that it was refreshing for me to see, to have something that has been stigmatized, hushed-up, or hidden away, to be so open and to see the process of the transition from male-to-female and female-to-male and in such a delicate and loving way,” exhibit-goer Mary Jenkins Gunn said.
In 2014, images from the personal collection of Drucker and Ernst found fame at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. While on display for the first time, “Relationship” challenged conventional concepts of sexual identity and gender identification.
Located in the gallery of JSMA, the collection of raw personal images depicts Drucker and Ernst’s bodies undergoing a metamorphosis to reflect their inward identities outwardly.
Accompanying the photographic exposé is Drucker’s award-winning experimental short film “She Gone Rogue” staring Drucker and Ernst. Supporting cast for “She Gone Rogue” includes Holly Woodlawn, Vaginal Davis and Flawless Sabrina. The film depicts a mishmash of imagery. Some of the images depicted are adult in nature.
“I thought it was really powerful and very evocative,” Margie Templeton, and exhibit-goer said. “The way they did it … at some points you can’t tell which one is the woman and which one is the man and who is becoming what. They are growing into who they truly are.”
Also known for their contributions to Amazon Prime’s award-winning series Transparent, where Ernst and Drucker are co-producers, the two multi-platform artists are racking up accomplishments as their creativity is embraced by the bright lights of Tinseltown. From fine art to TV programs, these two seem to be changing how many view issues surrounding trans culture.
According to Quinn Miller, UO English assistant professor, Drucker will be visiting the campus for three events. Drucker will screen portions of some of her new projects such as “Unison,” “This Is Me” and wifeytv.com. Screenings off campus at the Wayward Lamb are free to the public.
A previous version of this article stated Flawless Sabrina’s name as Lawless Sabrina. The article has since been updated with the correct information.