FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                Date: March 14, 2003

            Contact: Lynn Otterson, 206-7173


UIS events observe Women’s Heritage Month

SPRINGFIELD – The University of Illinois at Springfield is presenting a number of activities in March in observance of Women’s Heritage Month.

            “Discreet Rage,” an exhibit of works by painter Sandra Ahten and assemblage creator Sarah Elzbieta Kanouse, is on display in the UIS Visual Arts Gallery through April 3. This exhibit is sponsored by the gallery and the UIS Women’s Center and is free and open to the public.

Ahten’s paintings portray women in a wide range of ages and stages of life. Her style is varied but always maintains a perspective that is very much female, reflecting and discussing women’s inner space. She is currently owner/manager of a business called Art/Life, paints portraits by commission, and does research and speaking on various topics of interest to women. She explains, “Most of the work in this show is an exploration of vulnerability, sexuality, societal and religious influences, my own childhood experiences, and my adult experiences as well. Others I painted to challenge the viewer to consider how women’s sanity is judged and how we judge ourselves.” Ahten received a BFA in painting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998.

Some of Kanouse’s three-dimensional assemblages juxtapose Barbie dolls against famous images of women by artists such as Velasquez, da Vinci, and Renoir to explore how women’s external beauty is packaged and treated as a commodity. Other assemblages are two-dimensional collages. She explains, “In this body of work, visual material from popular culture, medical textbooks, and art history converge to create multi-layered records of the images through which women see ourselves. Through juxtaposition, overlay, and collage, I explore the


limitations, biases, and selectivity of these images. The ordinary materials and clumsy techniques used to construct these pieces underscore the common nature of the struggle to make meaning from the gendered objects and images we experience daily.” Kanouse is a graduate student in the MFA program at UIUC, where she also teaches.

On Thursday, March 27, a number of other events will be held in the gallery in conjunction with the exhibit.  From 4 to 5 p.m. the artNOW club will meet with Ahten. Contact the Visual Arts program at 206-6790 for more information.

From 5 to 7 p.m. the Women’s Center will host an artists reception. Contact Lynn Otterson, center director, at 206-7173 for details.

From 7:30 to 9 p.m. the Women’s Issues Caucus and ChickFlick Sisterhood student organizations will hold a “women and body image speak out” featuring poetry, music, and food as well as a forum for anyone who wishes to talk about women and body image or to share creative writing on the subject. Therapist Judith Corvin-Blackburn will also lead a meditation for the healing of body image. Contact Candi Clouse, president of the Women’s Issues Caucus, at 206-7459 for more information.

On Friday, March 28, the film Kandahar will be shown at 7 p.m. in Brookens

Auditorium, located on the lower level of Brookens Library. Kandahar tells the story of Nafas, a young journalist who escaped Afghanistan but returns in a race against time to rescue her sister, who is planning to commit suicide rather than live under Taliban oppression. The film was inspired by the real-life story of Niloufar Pazira, who plays Nafas. Part of the Foreign and Independent Film Series sponsored this spring by the UIS Office of Student Life, Kandahar is free and open to the public.

Displays commemorating women’s heritage and related events will be located at the entrances to the Public Affairs Center and Brookens Library during March, and the UIS homepage, at, also features a special link to all campus events celebrating Women’s Heritage Month 2003.

The Visual Arts Gallery is located in room 201 of the Health and Sciences Building on the UIS campus. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

For more information about any of these events, contact the UIS Women’s Center at (217) 206-7173 or go to