Our Bodies Ourselves

March 7 – April 10, 2019

Public Reception: Sunday, March 10, 1 – 3pm

I’m looking forward to Sundays reception. What makes this event really special is that there will be three generations of my family exhibiting.

Ely Center Press Release – Each year during Women’s History Month, ECOCA showcases In Grace We Trust, an exhibition that commemorates the philanthropic work of Grace Taylor Ely who transformed her home at 51 Trumbull Street into a space for local artists to gather and show their work. Since her passing, the Ely Estate and Friends of John Slade Ely House of Contemporary Art have carried on this tradition, maintaining the building as a place that supports New Haven’s artist communities. In Grace We Trust addresses ideas of tradition and change — a nod to the past as we confront current societal challenges and rise together to create future narratives.

This year, we take inspiration from Our Bodies Ourselves, the pivotal book first published in 1970 in Boston, on the cusp of the 2nd wave of feminism. The book has become a trusted source of support for generations of women who continue to use what they learn in its pages to claim control over their bodies. The 2011 edition, the last print edition, focuses on women’s reproductive health and sexuality. It includes dozens of personal stories and essential, up-to-date information about gender identity, sexual orientation, birth control, abortion, pregnancy and birth, perimenopause, menopause, health issues such as breast and ovarian cancers, and sexuality and sexual health as we age.

Nearly half a century after the first printing of Our Bodies Ourselves, we are still struggling with a system that allows for “inhumane legal restrictions, the imperfections of available contraceptives, the poor sex education, the highly priced and poorly administered health care that keep too many [people] from having this crucial control over their bodies.” (Preface to the 1973 Edition of “Our Bodies Ourselves”).

Inspired by Our Bodies Ourselves, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, was published in 2014 as a resource guide for transgender, gender expansive, and non-binary populations, covering health, legal issues, cultural and social questions, history, theory, and more. It is a place for transgender, gender expansive, non-binary, and gender questioning people, their partners and families, and others to look for up-to-date information on life under the trans umbrella. Artists of all genders are invited to share their work and experiences in this exhibition.

Our communities are strengthened through art as it fuels collaborative exchange and encourages us to understand and take responsibility for our mental, spiritual, and physical selves. Art continues to be a valuable tool for individuals to express their personal experiences and a social activator that brings communities together to address common concerns. Inspired by the work writers and editors of Our Bodies Ourselves have done over the years, this exhibition aims to create a safe, open forum in which to share concerns, hopes, and ideas.