We are "on the move" to a show in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is the last place I ever thought this show would go. Grand Rapids has a reputation of being very conservative and out of the mainstream - not very open to art.
However, one day we got a message on our answering machine from a couple of guys interested in having a show in their gallery. We thought it was a joke when the guy said his name was Jamieson Dick. It turned out not to be a joke and his last name really was Dick. He and his brother ran Studio 71 Gallery in Grand Rapids.
So…the Dick brothers wanted to host The Penis Project by Sue Long. That's pretty funny.
While Robert was at the gallery, an elderly woman came to see the show and she was in a wheel chair. The woman she was with said that she really wanted to see the show when she heard about it. The odd thing about that was that the elderly woman was blind. Robert, being a kind and gentle soul, set about describing the show to her. He did this by reading the names of each of the sculptures, telling her what colors they were and he let her touch as many as she wanted. She was thrilled at this experience. She loved the shapes and was able to (feel) see the humor of each of the sculptures. She said it had been years since she was able to enjoy the shape of the penis.
While I was at the gallery a woman came up to me and thanked me for doing the project. It turns out that she had been a victim of rape. She said that this was the first time she was able to approach this subject matter. She was thankful for the humor, light- heartedness and also the message of the show. She belonged to a support group and was going to suggest that some of those women also come to see the show. She felt this non-threatening environment was a good way to confront the memories of the penis that were not so pleasant.
Many people have asked, "What did you use for sources and where did you get it?" In other words, what did I look at to get the particulars I needed? Live models were not practical nor desired. I wanted images of a variety of penises and lots of them. They could be close-ups or they could be of the whole body. I wanted images that were from a cross-section of men. That is - big, small, circumcised, uncircumcised, erect, flaccid, multiple ethnicities, etc. Lots of variety was important but they couldn't be "in action".
When I'd search on the Internet the only images I'd find were on undesirable websites. They were not very helpful and it messed up my computer! A couple friends were willing to surf the Internet to find the images I was looking for. I ended up with two compact discs, each with 500 images. Just exactly what I was looking for 1,000 penises and no two were the same! So please, no more offers for live models.
Opening night was great fun!! Women loved it and belive it or not most men got it. Many men came to talk to me about how uncomfortable they were, but did get a sense of what it must be like for a woman. Plus, all the guys who felt that looking at women is just a guy thing. After all that’s the way they are hard wired and we women should just get over it.