Photo by Cade Schmidt

In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth was a complex maze-like structure. Labyrinth, the Associated Students Women’s Center’s annual art and literary publication, has nothing to do with Greek mythology, but the concepts of identity and personal empowerment that it explores are just as complex and intricate.

The 2012 Labyrinth Release Party will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 1 in the Viking Union Gallery. The Labyrinth gallery exhibit will run until March 2.

The 2012 Labyrinth will be distributed at the release party. Contributing poetry and short story authors from this year’s Labyrinth will present spoken word performances during the last hour of the event. There will be free Mallard’s ice cream and Starbucks coffee for attendees.

The theme of the 2012 Labyrinth is “Beyond the Body.” AS Women’s Center Support Staff and Labyrinth Coordinator Taneum Bambrick said that “Beyond the Body” is meant to delve deeper into the concept of identity than in previous publications, and that the theme looks beyond personal appearances and inherent constraints and limitations that everyone has.

“In our society, we visually marginalize people,” Bambrick said. “We look at someone and see their exterior and then think we understand everything about them as a person. What you visibly see of a person is not their entirety, obviously.”

For the first time, Labyrinth will be about 20 pages longer and printed completely in color thanks to an $800 grant from the Residence Halls Association. Bambrick approached the RHA earlier this year to express Labyrinth’s relevance and importance to incoming and current freshmen. On top of the grant, the RHA ensured that two copies of the publication would be available in every residence hall.

“It’s a tangible resource for students that they can take back to their dorm with them and look through,” Bambrick said. “They can find facets of their own identity within the stories of someone else and sort of see a path of recovery that someone else has already taken.”

The Labyrinth gallery, which first opened on Feb. 13, showcases a sample of the visual art from contributing student artists.
“I feel like we got a really good variety of different art mediums,” VU Gallery Director Ashley Hollender said. “There’s photo, there’s painting, there’s printmaking, there’s sculpture and there’s even a woven tapestry. It’s really awesome that we got such a variety of different things.”

Hollender said some pieces tackle the concept of identity in a more obvious way than others. One piece that deals directly with identity is “Mary, Mary,” a large oil painting by senior art student Sam Case that depicts two popular Christian figures, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary, Hollender said.

Case, who was raised Catholic, came out to his family when he was 16. He said that “Mary, Mary” is all about his struggles in trying to find a balance between his sexual and religious identity. In the painting, Case placed Mary Magdalene, who is commonly viewed as a sexual individual in the Bible, in a submissive position in the context of the Virgin Mary, a common symbol of purity and innocence.

“I wanted to take Christians symbols of Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary and kind of put them together in such a way that was very classical of that genre,” Case said. “It looks very classically like a religious painting, but it’s not. It’s got this kind of subtle twist to it.”

Bambrick said that although Labyrinth is a Women’s Center publication and it deals with feminism and women’s identity issues, the art and literary magazine is open to all types of individuals’ identities and features contributions from male, female, straight, queer and transgender students.

“It’s about identity celebration and personal empowerment. In that description, there’s no gender bias at all,” Bambrick said. “It’s about identity, which everyone has, and it’s about personal empowerment, which everyone can gain.”