New BAM Exhibit Challenges Norms

A new exhibit by artist Bren Ahearn opened last week at Bellevue Arts Museum. The collection is an emotionally charged body of needlework that challenges gender norms.

Bren Ahearn’s exhibit, Strategies for Survival, debuted June 10 and runs until January 15. It breaks gender boundaries by exploring the topic of male sensitivity. Typically seen as a feminine activity, needlework has been largely excluded from the art world. In Ahearn’s hands, he reclaims this forgotten art and adds a modern twist, using cultural references that range from Hello Kitty to cage fighters.

Historically, samplers were a way for young women to learn the alphabet, numbers, and needlework, especially in times when women did not have access to formal education. Many samplers feature moral and religious teachings. By changing the topics of the samplers, Ahearn removes the feminine and religious overtones, Ahearn creates something altogether new.

Bellevue Arts Museum is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Tickets are $12 for adults, with discounts for seniors, students, military, and teens.

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