Scintilla Art Box Project features photos on “cat-calling”

The Scintilla Art Box Project’s rotation for this month features the work of Curator and Photographer Sherri Nienass Littlefield, a New York-based artist whose work in the project discusses street harassment. Gallery boxes can be found in the Fleharty Educational Center, Hazelrigg Student Union, Kiewit Building, Morrison-Reeves Science Center and Wilson Center. 

Each of the boxes in the project displays a photo, with each of the photos being a part of Littlefield’s current series, “Calling Men.” The photos, held up by clear stands and mounted on foam core board, show various men who have “cat-called” Littlefield in passing, typically on the street. Cat-calling is a form of gender-based street harassment that includes, but is not limited to, “unwanted comments, gestures and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression or sexual orientation.”

“Every woman I know has been cat-called on the street at one point in her life. As a 32-year-old woman today, I still experience inappropriate behavior from random men on the street who feel a need to call out to me, regardless of what I am wearing, doing or who I’m with. I’ve had unwelcome comments about my looks, body, race and husband shouted toward me,” Littlefield said in her statement for Scintilla.

The photos of these various men who have cat-called Littlefield are taken with the artist’s “Spectacles,” a pair of glasses produced by social media company SnapChat with built in camera lenses. When approached with any street harassment, she takes a photo of the person(s). These photos are then edited to pixelate the face of the person in order to conceal their identity. Littlefield uploads the photos to her Instagram account, most of the time along with a quote of what the person said to her. 

With the project, Littlefield does not always take a photo when given the opportunity to do so, setting herself some limits for what she posts. For instance, she won’t post photos of certain groups of people or put herself in danger. 

“I’d like to acknowledge a few things about this project. I don’t know the background of these men, and I understand the upbringing, current surroundings or lack of stability may influence their rowdy comments. I will not knowingly post images of a homeless or differently-abled person calling out, because to me there are larger issues at hand, and it isn’t my place to further exploit that. I will never put myself in danger and exercise caution in my decision making of whether or not I take a portrait. I do not incriminate people in innocent situations where flirtation is typically acceptable (clubs, bars, etc.) The portraits are specifically taken from (of) random men on the streets,” Littlefield said.

Littlefield’s work in each of the art boxes will be on display for the remainder of the monthly rotation.