It Starts with Pink: A Case Study

by - May 13, 2015

Memphis College of Art presents It Starts with Pink: A Case Study by Katie Benjamin, on view May 16 through July 27 in the Alumni Gallery, Rust Hall, 1930 Poplar Ave., Overton Park. An opening reception will be held on Friday, May 22, 6–8 p.m.
Benjamin, a native of rural northeast Mississippi, was trained in art from a young age. She came to Memphis to study graphic design at Memphis College of Art and upon graduation in 2009, put down permanent roots in the Bluff City. She has since worked with Memphis MagazineThe Memphis Flyer and, for the past four years, as a graphic designer with a number of her fellow MCA alumni at Combustion, a design and advertising firm located in Midtown. Beyond her work as a designer, Benjamin’s secondary love has always been photography, and the image has always been an integral part of the way she works.
In the photographic series It Starts With Pink: A Case Study, Benjamin utilizes color to evaluate the current state of gender equity and the wage gap. Each object in the study represents a male-dominated role, but is coated in pastel pink. “The moment a girl is born in the United States, society begins to determine her gender role and she is inevitably bombarded with some form of the color pink—pink garments, pink toys, perhaps a pink bedroom,” said Benjamin. “That early imposition of a simple color sets a precedent that can spill over into adulthood. According to the most recent U.S. Census, women earned a yearly average of 77% of what a man was paid for the same job.”
Additionally, Benjamin notes that women account for only 24% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs, a little less than 7% of commercial airline pilots and only 4.6% of CEOs of S&P 500 companies. “Through the use of this symbolic color, I ask why we are not encouraging more women to aspire to take on these roles,” said Benjamin. “The exhibition is a starting point in a larger conversation as to how gender equity plays out in our current social climate. It forces viewers to question why women are largely missing from these roles.”
Gallery hours are Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 4 p.m. MCA exhibitions and receptions are free and open to the public. For additional information, visit
Photo: Katie Benjamin, “Case Study 01”, 20” x 30”, archival pigment print

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