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Guerrilla Girls to discuss social justice in art during stop in Rochester

Guerrilla Girls to discuss social justice in art during stop in Rochester

Members of the Guerrilla Girls, a world-renowned group of art activists, will be making a stop at the Rochester Art Center this Friday.

The reception, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., is part of the highly-anticipated Guerrilla Girls "Twin Cities Takeover." The group will be holding additional events at galleries and classrooms in the Twin Cities through early March. 

The Guerrilla Girls started in 1985 in response to what they viewed as sexism and racism within the arts community. Their first protest was against the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which featured more than 160 artists, but just 17 of them women.

Their first poster displayed the names of several dozen prominent male artists, asking what they all "have in common." The answer: they all allow their works to be displayed in galleries that "show no more than 10% women or none at all."

 
 

"We put that up on the street and it was unbelievable; everybody started talking about," said Frida Kahlo, a founding member of the Guerrilla Girls, in a recent interview with the Rochester Experience. "So, it was like riding a galloping horse and we haven't gotten off it since."

The group's members remain anonymous by wearing gorilla masks and using pseudonyms for names. They do this not only to protect themselves from backlash, but also to keep the focus on the issues — not their individual personalities.

"We would like everyone to think of art as culture, not as an investment or fancy, luxury items — you know, something that means something in people's lives," Kahlo said. 

"We really think what's in museums should look like our culture. Otherwise, if the history of art doesn't include all of the voice of a culture, it's not the history of that culture; it's a history of power of a certain group."

 
 

In addition to the Guerrilla Girls, Friday's panel discussion will also include Amanda Curreri, an Oakland-based artist whose work will be on display at the Art Center through May.

According to a news release from the Art Center, the artists will "consider visual strategies, how social justice and cultural topics inform their work, and invoking social activism as a methodology for engagement."

The reception, which is free and open to the public, will be one of several events held in the coming months at the Art Center exploring the intersection of art and social activism, says the release.

Here's the Rochester Experience's full interview with Kahlo:


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(Cover photo courtesy Guerrilla Girls)

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