E.V. Day: Breaking the Glass Ceiling is a gravity-defying exhibition that encourages viewers to aim high and break through their own invisible barriers. As the final show of a three-part exhibition cycle that comprises CMA’s 30th anniversary CIVICKIDS: Make Art. Make A Difference campaign, Breaking the Glass Ceiling aims to give viewers the courage and platform to let their voice be heard.
In light of CMA’s 30th anniversary CIVICKIDS campaign, which fosters civic engagement and shared community pride through art-making, we endeavored to hear more from our community and understand their varied approaches to civic engagement and the arts. Below, CMA caught up with E.V. Day to discuss her installation at CMA and her thoughts on child-led civic engagement.
CMA: What inspired your exhibition Breaking the Glass Ceiling at CMA?
EVD: Visualizing the ephemeral, material as metaphor, and the challenge of introducing the idea of the glass ceiling to children.
CMA: What did you enjoy most about creating this exhibition?
EVD: I absolutely got a thrill out of being able to shatter glass in my studio! It was a challenge to develop a method to do it safely. I also really loved working closely with the staff and administration at CMA. They have been a real asset throughout this process. Building an artwork for CMA’s audience was especially gratifying as its purpose is to be a teaching tool through aesthetics.
CMA: Why did you choose to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg with her own “chunk” of the glass ceiling?
EVD: When I was breaking glass in the studio, some of the shards looked like crystal or diamonds. I started thinking of them as representing the portion of the glass ceiling that heroines of mine took out of the glass ceiling. I held up different glass chunks and assigned them names: Sally Ride, Hillary Clinton, etc. Ginsburg’s shard made it into the show because I thought her legacy of fighting for women’s rights through the Supreme Court would be am entry point of discussion.
CMA: What glass ceilings do you hope future generations will break?
EVD: My hope is that future generations will make the term “glass ceiling” obsolete. I know progress is being made, but inequality remains. My dream is that as we transition from an oil-based economy towards clean, renewable energy that quickly eliminates the hierarchy in regards to gender, race and class.
CMA: You remarked in an interview with Studio International that your work is essentially about movement through space. How do you hope children moving through Breaking the Glass Ceiling affects them and their experience of the installation and the ideas it embodies?
EVD: My hope is that children will become aware of this invisible ceiling and also see how I constructed it, so that they can imagine disassembling it and removing it piece by piece. The tension is held in place with interlocking eye and hook hardware components that can be detached by hand.
CMA: Your work often mixes the symbolic meaning of materials through a process-oriented approach. Can you tell us more about what it was like breaking and photographing the glass for this installation? Did it bring up any unexpected experiences or emotions?
EVD: The tempered glass that was like glacier was really resistant to shattering and it took all of my might to break it. I had to say a prayer and focus on hitting as hard as I could. It was a little scary!
CMA: How do you think parents can help their children explore the world and their feelings about it through art?
EVD: Asking questions and listening to the answers, then asking follow up questions. Finding common interests within the same subject. These images of shattered glass look like the sky, cosmos, glaciers, etc.
CMA: One particular topic kept coming up again and again during our CIVICKIDS campaign: how parents and adults discuss difficult topics — from politics to bullying — with children in a way that is safe and encouraging. It seems that you must have thought about this kind of translation for children while thinking about an installation at CMA. What advice do you have for parents and caregivers who want to use art to open up dialogue with their children?
EVD: I’m constantly surprised by how much of the world children pick up on or intuitively seem to know. As a child, I always appreciated the adults that would engage with me on topics that others thought I was too young for. Their gentle guidance satisfied my curiosity. I see my installation as a visual entry point to discussing conflict.
This exhibition is supported, in part, by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. CIVICKIDS is sponsored by Google.