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story.lead_photo.caption Columbia artist Kristen Lyle stands in front of one of her two pieces of art on display at the "Bridging Differences" art exhibit at William Woods University. This exhibit is a part of WWU's fourth annual symposium on diversity and inclusion that is going on this week from Monday to Thursday. Photo by Quinn Wilson / Fulton Sun.

An art exhibit that explores the issues of gender, race and intersectionality opened Tuesday evening at William Woods University.

Located in the Gladys Woods Kemper Center for the Arts, the "Bridging Differences" art exhibit is a part of WWU's fourth annual diversity and inclusion symposium. Mary Mosely, the symposium's founder and primary benefactor, was inspired to start the four-day event after attending Westminster College's annual symposium.

"I really wanted to highlight intersectionality and (show) that it's not this inequality or that inequality, but that they all work together," Mosely said.

Twenty artists from across the country had their work on display at the exhibit. The lone artist in attendance was Kristen Lyle, of Columbia. Lyle graduated from Columbia College in 2018 and her final BFA project fit the bill perfectly for the exhibit's theme.

"I think a professor was the one who pointed this gallery to my attention and I already had the work done, and I felt like it was a perfect fit so I went ahead and applied," Lyle said.

Lyle had two pieces of work in the exhibit that centered around gender identification. The first was a large two-part collage featuring diagrams of skeletons with a variety of adjectives used to describe different genders. Her second piece was a video running on a loop with thought-provoking phrases and standards associated with gender roles.

"(My pieces of art) kind of got started with the idea of exploring the way that gender comes into graphic design, which my degree was in, and the way we talk about design in terms of being masculine or feminine," Lyle said.

Lyle said she began making videos about gender and how people identify and relate to their own gender after hearing things such as, "That design is too feminine, make it more professional."

"There definitely are some aspects of my work that highlight the intersection between race and gender. It's not exactly my story to tell so I focused on the gender and let people tell their own stories," Lyle said.

A lengthy line of WWU students waited their turn at the exhibit to write their own reflections on race and gender. The gallery's director, Charles Dodoo, held the opening ceremony for the exhibit and presented artist awards.

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