JORDANA GILMAN: I was sitting in Savage Hall, and I looked up and I saw three portraits of rich white men looking down at me. And I thought this isn't representative of who's at Cornell now and where Cornell is headed. I wanted to do something to put portraits of women on the walls. I have no formal experience in feminist theory, in art exhibits, in photography, in art, in anything like this. I just knew that I saw a problem, and I wanted to do something to contribute to fixing it.
About half of these women are notable alumni, and about half are women who work at Cornell currently and have made an impact on the student life. And I started just feeling like I knew these people. I mean, I've been entrenched in these women for so long. So many of these people have had to deal with being attractive or not being attractive or being seen as some sort of object because they're women. And that's not something that we can point our fingers on that often. But it's something that we deal with anyway.
You don't look at a portrait of a man on the wall and say, oh, I bet he was foxy when he was younger. And I think it's just important to step back and think, am I judging this person based on how she appears, or am I not?
I wanted to have five mirrors interspersed in the exhibit. People started thinking about how they would be part of this incredible sisterhood of Cornell women. Current professors are slowly finding out that they're in this exhibit and coming on by, which has been a really cool process. Because this is all about inspiring the next group of Cornell women.
I want students to come in here and see what women have done, and can do, and think I can do even better. I see that women are Supreme Court justices. I want to be president of the United States. I see that women are astronauts. I want to run NASA. I just want people to look at these, and get inspired, and then dream even bigger.
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Jordana Gilman '14 discusses her motivation for an art exhibit featuring notable female Cornellians--alumnae, professors, and administrators--past and present. 250 black and white photographs are on display in the Willard Straight Hall Art Gallery to inspire visitors and honor the work of Cornell women.