The comfiest couch I’ve sat on all week is currently in the fifth-floor expansion space of The Mint Museum Uptown. It’s part of a casual-chic living room set up by West Elm smack dab in the midst of the Young Affiliates of the Mint‘s (YAMs) second art show, “GENDERED.”

“GENDERED” is a free, juried art show curated to establish an inclusive arts platform for gender issues and the ways they intersect with identity, race and sexuality.

This “conversation space” is furnished with couches, chairs, fabric stools and decorated coffee tables to encourage viewers to stay awhile once they’ve viewed the featured works by 24 artists from around America.

It’s intense. The works include an immense wall draped in crimson yarn, shipping tags and diaper pins, created by Stacy Bloom Rexrode. The installation, “TAG! You’re It!”, features red tags with statistics about women’s reproductive health, rights and issues to prompt visitors to respond to the piece by adding their thoughts on manila shipping tags and pinning them to the yarn.

Red tags share statistics like “97 percent of rapists will never go to jail” and “44 percent of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18.” Manila tags show participants discussing their own rape traumas, STD diagnosis and call for women to make their own choices.

“TAG! You’re It!”
“TAG! You’re It!”

Nearby, a painted quilt by Greg Climer called “Men Kissing” removes the idea of sex from a pornographic image. He does this by turning it into a decorative piece.

The piece makes you interact, too — the information plaque prompts viewers to look at the photo through their cell phone camera, which makes the image less pixelated and, thus, more clear.

“Men Kissing”

The interactive prompts by various artists and the decorated conversation space are meant to get Charlotteans talking about subjects they may not normally discuss in their day-to-day lives, said incoming YAMs president Lauren Harkey.

And no matter what you talk about, Harkey said, “There’s no right or wrong here.”

The title of the exhibition itself is meant to make the viewer consider who assigns gender in the exhibit and in America — the “gendered” person or an outsider?

Walk through the exhibition space. Pull up a chair with someone and share your reactions. That’s what the YAMs want to see happening here with viewers.

“If they stay,” Harkey said, “you never know what can happen.

View “GENDERED”

Open June 16-July 21 during regular museum hours, with an artist talk on June 28 at 6 p.m. The exhibition is free, with a donation box and a $5 suggested donation.

Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St.

Photos: Katie Toussaint

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