“The portraits in The Bearded Lady Project intentionally cause double takes, forcing the viewer to look, then look again. But their real power lies in how they require us to look inward and see that antediluvian ideas about who can and cannot do science still linger. The accompanying stories of remarkable women in paleontology make one hopeful that soon these old stereotypes will finally go extinct.”
~Marcia Bjornerud, professor of geosciences at Lawrence University, author of Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World
We’re closing out our SVP virtual exhibit with a book reading by Dr. Leslea Hlusko, one of the scientists featured in the new book, The Bearded Lady Project: Challenging the Face of Science, edited by Lexi Jamieson Marsh and Ellen Currano.
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Stereotypes are powerful because they are simple. Close your eyes and picture a paleontologist. The majority of individuals will conjure up an image of a man who is white, older, with a beard, who carries or wears some generalized identifier that connects him to his occupation. Did you picture a pith helmet? Or was he dressed all in khaki? See, simple and very much incorrect. The Bearded Lady Project: Challenging the Face of Science is a collaboration between art and science to take hold of this negative stereotype by altering it to present the truth behind the beard. Women are paleontologists too, and it is their complexities as humans that make their scientific work so valuable.
Published in May 2020, The Bearded Lady Project book combines all the creative and scientific elements that make this project such an ideal interdisciplinary collaboration. Unable to share the book in-person, a number of our contributing scientists were able to record themselves at home. “The Moments When I Am Not a Woman,” read and recorded by Dr. Leslea Hlusko, offers a clear example of how sharing these personal stories allows us to find common ground by celebrating our individuality.