Chicagoist

Chicagoist

January 9, 2008
Not Yet A Woman ...


We all have existing (read: delightfully painful) memories of our adolescent years, so now that your life is all pulled together (ha), why not pay those memories a visit?

Girls on the Verge: Portraits of Adolescence, exhibiting at the Art Institute, might help to stir up those warm "fuzzies." The collection of more than 40 photographs and one video includes work by Rineke Dijkstra, Lauren Greenfield, Sally Mann, Hellen van Meene, and other contemporary artists attempts to document that captivating, awkward gap between girlishness and womanhood.

The exhibit seems ironically appropriate in today's culture, where even fully grown women struggle with issues of sexuality, body image and objectivism, and the attempt to balance femininity's undeniable effects and the quest to be seen as equals. It has been argued that teenagers seem to be growing up faster these days, so it is always interesting to see how this hot topic is portrayed from an artist’s perspective. Darkly humorous? Depressing reality? Girls will be girls?

All of the above, actually. Sprinkled with subtle cultural and sexual statements, the exhibit is a sombre attempt to capture the identity of adolescence - however elusive that identity may be as a young adult. In fact, the most challenging part of adolescence is figuring out who you are supposed to be, and for us checking out this exhibit uncovered the unexpected pleasure of validation … yep, we all went through it. Makes you feel a little better, doesn’t it?