“The Pearl Dress,” by Joanne Marracci. Photo courtesy Joanne Marracci

“The Pearl Dress,” by Joanne Marracci. Photo courtesy Joanne Marracci

By Ann McCreary

Woman: Lady. Girl. Female. Chick. Dame. Broad. Lassie. Wench. Maiden.

The many facets of womanhood are explored by more than 30 artists in a new exhibit, “Woman: An Artist’s Interpretation,” opening at Confluence Gallery and Art Center on Saturday (March 8), with a reception from 4 – 8 p.m. The exhibit runs through April 19.

Saturday also marks International Women’s Day, which inspired the theme for the exhibit.

Confluence invites the public to be “inspired, stimulated and yes, maybe even shocked,” said gallery director Nicole Ringgold, who co-curated the exhibit with artist Joanne Marracci. “The show hopes to instigate dialogue and discussion about the many facets of being a woman in the world.”

Artists — both male and female — were asked to interpret their definition of “woman” by creating up to five pieces in a variety of visual media for the exhibit. To accompany their work, artists were also asked to submit a brief statement describing their understanding of what it is to be a woman.

Reflections submitted by artists include:

• “Women’s bodies, another militarized zone.”

• “Being content as a woman is about the perception of the possible.”

• “Women are a constant source of delight and consternation to me. I have learned to tread lightly around them.”

• “To be a woman means to be willing to feel the totality of life and to carry it in our heart.”

• “Since ancient times woman symbolizes fertility; she is the mother, the gardener, the caretaker and the nurturing spirit of humankind.”

Pieces in the exhibit portray the female form and spirit in painting, ceramics, photography, pottery, mixed media, glass, sculpture, wood, mosaic, mobiles and jewelry.

Gallery visitors will also be invited to share their thoughts about women, Ringgold said. A collaborative graffiti wall near the gallery entrance will encourage people to write words that come to mind as they pertain to women.

The gallery’s restroom will have scraps of paper and a bulletin board for people to post their thoughts. Ringgold said observations from the graffiti wall and bulletin board will be shared on Confluence’s Facebook page.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Confluence is presenting a panel discussion on March 29, featuring women discussing their involvement in a variety of careers including an author, scientist, musician, professor, defense attorney, full-time mother, nurse practitioner, farmer and firefighter. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the guided discussion begins at 6 p.m. at the gallery. The event is free.

International Women’s Day will also be recognized in another event at The Merc Playhouse, just across the street from Confluence Gallery. The Merc will present a Readers Theater production of Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo on April 17 and 18. The play, directed by Ashley Lodato, is about a full-time mom and a feminist academic who decide to switch lives, and is a “funny and scathing examination of the idea of ‘having it all,’” said Ringgold.

Ringgold said International Women’s Day ranges from a celebration of women’s achievements to an expression of love for women. Ringgold said her desire to recognize International Women’s Day derives from experiences in coordinating a festival honoring the event while serving in the Peace Corps in Africa in 1996, and from coordinating a Women’s Day festival in the Methow Valley two years ago.

The exhibit runs through April 19.