Monthly Archives: February 2010

Feminists in Current Visual Resistance

Kristine Virsis - Alice

Last week I went to an event at Bluestockings, a radical bookstore in lower Manhattan, for the book Paper Politics: Socially Engaged Printmaking Today, based on a traveling exhibition of amazing protest art.  A group of artists included in the book gathered to share their thoughts on making art to promote social justice and global equity.  Despite being a broad survey of issues and voices (the book is incredible), the topics of sexism, reproductive rights, sexual assault, patriarchy, and other similar issues were not very prominent among these images.

While certainly contemporary printmaking addressing these issues does exist, even a recent exhibition of feminist work from The Center for the Study of Political Graphics lacks a significant recent feminist voice, as most of the work is from prior to 1990.  Their collection, Reclaiming the F-word, contains posters addressing so many feminist issues that are still pertinent today, yet most of them weren’t created in the past two decades.

While certain issues may not be as prominent in activist printmaking as they previously were, there are a host of female-identified artists who are using their work, in anywhere from traditional printmaking to flyers and other illustrations, to continue confronting feminist issues in an accessible way.

Just Seeds Collective members such as Kristine Virsis, Favianna Rodriguez, Meredith Stern and Melanie Cervantes, use their prints to address the role of women within resistance movements. Others like For the Birds friends and collaborators Cristy Road and Caroline Paquita are using their art and illustration to tackle gender, sex, and queerness, among other topics. These are just a few of the women I know of who are currently creating accessible feminist art. It would also seem that with a current strengthening of DIY feminist zine culture, there would be a surge in similar image making as well.  I’m looking forward to exploring these topics and posting more often about current feminist visual resistance.

In other For the Birds friend-art news, Tamara Waite-SaintIbanez, who designed last year’s Big She Bang poster, has a solo printed sculpture show coming up in March!  Check out the flyer for details.

12th Annual Women’s History Conference at Sarah Lawrence College!

THE MESSAGE IS IN THE MUSIC is a 2-day event on Friday March 5th and Saturday March 6th at Sarah Lawrence College in the Monika A. and Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Visual Arts Center.  This conference is so exciting because it incorporates a mix of many different feminist narratives and viewpoints, touching on race, sexuality, gender, and culture.  For the Birds partially grew out of a response to the sexism we experienced in the NYC Do It Yourself punk scene, so it will be exciting for us to hear about similar narratives from folks on the front lines of feminism and musical culture.  We are also super excited to see our own Kate Wadkins moderate the panel on Riot Grrrl!  We will be tabling on Saturday March 6th, so check out the schedule below if you are interested!  Map and directions can be found here.


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Support Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls!

If you want a chance to support Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and hang out with amazing female musicians, here is your chance! The Fourth Annual Rock N Roll Auction will be held Tuesday February 9th, 8 pm at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn.

The auction helps provide much needed scholarships for young rock stars to attend camp. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $75 for a VIP Ticket that includes pre auction reception with Kathleen Hanna and Kaki King, plus complimentary hors d’oevres & cocktails from Tito’s Handmade Vodka, gift bags, & mini drum lessons! The event will be hosted by Mr. Murray Hill with performances by Kaki King, Saffire and Erin McKeown. Come support!

Juvenile Justice in New York

For folks who follow local New York politics there has been a lot of buzz recently around how broken the New York State juvenile justice system is. Reports published in 2009 indicate high levels of re-arrest after release, abuse of young detainees by guards and staff and an over representation of young people of color in detention centers. While in most recent news the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice(DJJ) was merged into the Administration for Children’s Services(ACS).

Disturbing (yet not entirely surprising) information about juvenile detention in NYS started coming to my attention in my professional life. By chance I’ve also been reading Victoria Law’s Resistance Behind Bars which turned out to be key in keeping a radical feminist perspective while researching juvenile justice in the context of a liberal work setting. Law reminds the reader at the beginning of Resistance that she is not advocating for a more humane prison system, but rather to “strive for a better world – one in which prison’s are obsolete.” I would tend to agree that the prison system for adults and juveniles cannot simply be reformed into a slightly better place. I also believe that the struggle for some changes which can prevent the most egregious violations of human rights, such as the shackling of birthing women’s legs and the level of physical restraint which lead to the death of 15 year old Darryl Thompson at Tryon Boys Residential Center in November 2006, are crucial to advocate for.

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