Throughout the years in American history, men have stereotypically been deemed as the dominant, working figure in family-oriented situations. Women in society are traditionally supposed to cook, clean and take care of children. As generations have passed, women have fought for more authority and independence, however, there is still an overarching inequality in the American labor force.
NAU art professor Christopher Taylor is a United States citizen and father of two. He has noticed this imbalance in American society and said he wants to bring a different perspective of family to the table.
Weird Twilight: The Serlachius Drawings is an art exhibit that debuted Oct. 7 in the Riles building. Taylor is the creator of all the drawings displayed in the exhibit. Taylor said these drawings were inspired by the fatherhood and family importance he observed in Finnish culture.
Taylor is a senior lecturer in the School of Art and the coordinator of the Beasley Gallery. Two years ago, Taylor was accepted to a Serlachius Museum residency in Finland after pitching an idea about his artwork, which carried the theme of fatherhood and family into American culture. In June while he was living in Finland, Taylor created a body of work now on display at NAU.
“In Finland, they have such a progressive society of family inclusion, especially with fatherhood inclusion, in terms of raising kids and stuff like that,” Taylor said. “So, this was a way for me to present my research through my drawings to the NAU community.”
Taylor said he appreciates that NAU allows professors to share their work for students to see, as well as for other faculty members to understand what people’s positions are in art. There are layers to the art, and there is more to be discussed than just the landscape. Taylor said the exhibit provides a moment of engagement for conceptual, artistic ideas to be deliberated.
The difference between the Serlachius pieces and what would typically be displayed in an exhibit is that the canvas is printer paper. Taylor is a painter, but was given a limited amount of time to create his work during his residency in Finland. He said drawing allows him to get ideas out in a quicker, fun and more intimate way.
Finnish society is more compassionate to families, which is what Taylor said inspired his work. For instance, mothers can take a lot of time off to raise children, as opposed to American society where mothers only get a certain amount of maternity leave before being summoned back to work. Fathers also get a lot of time off as well in Finland. Another example of the nation’s compassion is that every family gets a birthing box when they leave the hospital with a newborn baby, which is a box full of baby supplies.
Taylor said he sees this as a revolutionary idea, because it is so different from the value American culture puts on family. He said women staying home while men go to work supports the patriarchy and capitalism in this country. He wants to challenge those ideas through conversations about being a father and the value Americans place on labor in society.
NAU adviser Randy Shannon works in Riles and said he has walked by the gallery every day.
“They show a unique perspective of an artist who works here on campus,” Shannon said.
Kristen Harris, the program coordinator of community outreach for the College of Arts and Letters, said the exhibit is used to display the talents and interests of the faculty and staff.
“We like to use the space in Riles to allow them the opportunity to share their interests with NAU,” Harris said. “Chris Taylor’s pieces communicate his connection to drawing and painting to his role as a father.”
Weird Twilight: Serlachius Drawings allows for the NAU community to take a different perspective of family in American culture. The exhibit will remain open through Dec. 20 in the Riles building.