The Womanish Experience

What’s your -ish?

I wasn’t sure I would be able to visit Womanish before the exhibition was over, but on October 14th, I found myself downtown at the front door. The deadline to visit this experience has been extended multiple times, so who knows when the final chance to see it will be.

Delish. Lightish. Partyish. Censoredish. Consumerish. Paidish. Childish. Vanish.

“Experience” menu at a bar at Womanish exhibit on Oct.14, 2020. (Photo/ Ty’Kira Smalls)

These are the 12 experiences that Womanish explores across their three floor exhibition.

Take a walk through the psychedelic mini maze of Vanish, play pretend or hop on the see saw in Childish, experience the ups and downs of emotions in Moodyish, or learn just how much people pay for periods in Consumerish. Started by sisters Danyelle and Dionna Gray, this exhibit is located in the heart of downtown Chicago.

My top theme was Vanish or Childish; Vanish for the aesthetics, and Childish for the interactivity.

Vanish is a kaleidoscopic maze on the third floor. It’s impossible to miss, with its colorful lights bouncing off the trippy film sheets that make up the maze. There is so much color it feels like being in a small prism. The walls next to vanish are various reflective surfaces and mirrors, almost like a funhouse.

Posing in the Vanish maze on Oct. 14, 2020. (Photo/ Ty’Kira Smalls)

As I went through, I couldn’t help but think of the possible layers to this portion. Is it about how we go through life with many versions of ourselves? Is it a conflict of how we see ourselves vs. how we think we’re perceived vs. how we want to be perceived? Is it a sense of self vs. false sense of self situation? The maze aspect of this portion just made it all more interesting.

Getting lost in the reflective screens of the Vanish maze on Oct. 14, 2020. (Photo/ Ty’Kira Smalls)

Across from Vanish, sat childish. The faux grass carpet and toy cars called to play immediately. Further into Childish is a swing set, whiteboard, and see saw. I sat at a little lemonade stand and also wondered about the layers to this -ish as well. Play, joy, happiness, carefree, dreaming of having little versions of things that are just more scary and more expensive when you get older (little house, lemonade stand (business), car).

I struggle to stuff myself into this pink toy truck on Oc. 14, 2020. (Photo/ Ty’Kira Smalls)

Regardless of the layers, the overarching theme of this exhibition was “experience”. Each floor of the building is decorated in multitudes of colors, patterns, art, music, themes, quotes, and displays that will light up any Instagram feed.

Gorgeous artwork made by artist Jas Petersen, on view in the Selfish room on Oct. 14, 2020. (Photo/Ty’Kira Smalls)

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