Release Date: October 31,2019

Artist Angela Washko to speak at Akron Art Museum

Angela Washko, whose artwork is on view as part of Open World: Video Games & Contemporary Art, will speak at the Akron Art Museum on Saturday, November 9 from 2-3 p.m. The artist will discuss her interdisciplinary practice combining performance, video, installation art and game-making, which is devoted to creating new forums for discussions of feminism.

Open World features a wall-sized projection of three of Washko’s game interventions recorded for video: Nature, Playing a Girl and FEMI NAZIS from the series The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft (2012-14). In each, the artist logs onto the world’s most popular online role-playing game, World of Warcraft (WoW), forgoes the game’s intended quest structure and converses with other players, asking them about their personal definition of feminism and attitudes toward gender.

Curator of Exhibitions Theresa Bembnister, who organized Open World, describes Washko as a skilled WoW player. “Despite her accomplishments, she found that other players treated her differently when they discovered she was female. Frustrated with the atmosphere of harassment in WoW, she decided to create an art intervention within the game world by asking other players to share their personal definitions of feminism. Washko documented these in-game performances through videos, screenshots and live presentations in a series she calls The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft.”

Open World also includes the artist’s recorded video from The Sims, in which she creates a darkly humorous critique of the historical associations of men with the outdoors and women with domestic environments. In You’re Either In or Out from the series Free Will Mode, Washko builds a house with no exterior doors and sequesters male Sims characters outdoors and a female Sim indoors. Washko allows the game to play itself in free will mode to disastrous results.

Bembnister said, “Forty-six percent of the people who play video games identify as female, although game environments can be unfriendly toward women. Washko’s work provides a platform to discuss the causes and effects of poor treatment of women within games.”

Washko is a tenure-track assistant professor of art at Carnegie Mellon University and a core faculty member for the MFA program. Her work has been featured in The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times and The New Yorker, among many other publications. ArtForum named her solo exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image one of the top shows of 2018. She has received numerous awards for her work, published extensively, and spoken on contemporary art, video games and technology in venues all over the world.

Admission to the talk is complimentary for museum members and $12 for nonmembers. University of Akron students, faculty and staff (with valid Zip Card) receive complimentary admission. Open World: Video Games & Contemporary Art is on view at the Akron Art Museum through February 2, 2020.