Category: Feminist art

Reclaiming the “F” Word

Feminist poster from Sri Lanka

[ Rural Women Unite Against Violence - Anonymous silkscreen poster from Sri Lanka, produced in the early 1970s. Created for the Network of Rural Women’s Groups/Baddegama, Sri Lanka. On display at Reclaiming the "F" Word. ]

Mentioned on this web log from time to time, L.A.’s irreplaceable Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) has once again curated an exhibit of great importance to designers, artists, and activists. Reclaiming the “F” Word: Posters on International Feminisms, will premier at the California State University Northridge Art Galleries. Reading from the CSPG press release for the exhibit:

“The national and international posters in this exhibition reflect a deepening awareness that women’s struggles, women’s leadership and women’s activism throughout the world challenge oppressive conditions in diverse and creative ways. Posters from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America explore class, race and gender as they show women at the forefront of struggles for human rights and social change.

Powerful graphics depict diverse feminist issues from the suffragettes to the activism of the 1970s to today. The family unit, childcare, labor, ecology, trafficking and violence are just some of the topics covered. Posters show women organizing against the Viet Nam War and against Apartheid in South Africa. They decry the ongoing murders of women in Juarez, Mexico and use of rape as a military weapon in Darfur, Sudan.”

After its premier at CSUN, Reclaiming the “F” Word will travel nationally and internationally under the auspices of the CSPG. The exhibit is the result of a call for Feminist poster art issued by the CSPG in April 2007, an appeal that I eagerly published on this web log. While it is obviously too late to submit entries to Reclaiming the “F” Word, the organization excepts submissions of posters to their archives the year round. The CSPG collection of historic and contemporary graphics dealing with social change movements currently numbers at around 50,000 unique pieces.

Reclaiming the “F” Word runs at the California State University Northridge Art Galleries from June 3 to July 3, 2008. An Opening Reception for the show takes place on Saturday June 7, 2008, from 2 to 5 pm. The gallery is located at 18111 Nordhoff Street Northridge, CA 91330. There is no admission charge for the exhibit but parking is $5.00. For more details visit the CSPG website.

Peace, Love, and Crass Art

[ UPDATE - Gee Vaucher's exhibit, Introspective, will be on display in Los Angeles from April 12 through May 3, 2008 at Track 16 Gallery. ]

Mostly known for the remarkable graphics she produced for the late 70’s British anarchist punk band Crass, Gee Vaucher continues to create extraordinarily insightful imagery that strips away society’s veneer to reveal hidden truths. Introspective, her current exhibit at the Jack Hanley Gallery in San Francisco, gives further evidence of her importance as a socially conscious artist for our time. Vaucher’s exhibit opened on Dec. 14, 2007, and surprisingly… San Francisco’s local NBC affiliate dropped-in to cover the opening. Click here to view NBC’s slideshow of the event, which gives a pretty good visual summation of the evening as well as showcasing the quality of Vaucher’s art.

Artwork by Gee Vaucher

[ Liberty - Gee Vaucher. Gouache and pencil on paper. 2006? ]

Vaucher’s proficiency at drawing serves as the rock solid foundation for her art, and she calls upon traditional skills to create her complex paintings. Even as a young art student, it was clear that Vaucher had a natural talent for figurative realism, but possessing and utilizing time-honored methods does not necessarily lead to conventional artworks - and one would be mistaken to call Vaucher’s works “conservative.” Another misjudgment would be to accept the commonly held view of punk aesthetics as minimalist, crude, mindless, and intentionally designed to repulse. Vaucher’s early works for Crass were intellectually sophisticated, technically well crafted, and dare I say - beautiful. Full of narrative and profound meaning, they wielded a social critique as pertinent today as when they first appeared decades ago. If at times Vaucher’s works seem a bit obscure in a surrealist manner, they are always clear in communicating a love of humanity and utter contempt for despotism.

Student artwork by Gee Vaucher

[ Life drawing - Gee Vaucher. Pencil on paper. 1954. Sketch of a live model done in art college. ]

Vaucher visited Los Angeles in 2000 for a limited speaking tour, where I was fortunate enough to exchange a few brief words with her on the subject of art and politics. Many people have assumed that her works were, and are, pure assemblages of photographic materials. As she explained to me, much of her work isn’t photomontage or collage at all - but hand drawn imagery created in pencil and water based gouache paint.

The painting Who Do They Think They’re Fooling? - You?, now on view at the Jack Hanley Gallery, is a perfect example of Vaucher’s didactic method and hyperrealist technique. Created in 1980 as cover art for the 7″ Crass single, Bloody Revolutions, Vaucher based her artwork on a famous photo of the Sex Pistols, but the members of the mock band presented in her painting consisted of the Queen of England, Pope John Paul II, the Statue of Liberty, and Margaret Thatcher. If the Pistols were a rock ‘n roll swindle, Vaucher was telling us, then the icons in her artwork represented the ultimate ruling class con job.

Artwork by Gee Vaucher

[ Who Do They Think They’re Fooling? - You? Gee Vaucher. 1980. Gouache and pencil on paper. Cover art for the 7" Crass single, Bloody Revolutions.]

Yo! What Happened to Peace? is a traveling antiwar poster exhibit in which several of my artworks are included, so I’m thrilled to learn that Yo! organizer and curator, John Carr, has arranged a collaboration with Gee Vaucher and the Jack Hanley Gallery. On Jan. 17, 18 and 19, artists from the Yo! project will work in partnership with Gee Vaucher and Penny Rimbaud (also from Crass), to present a Yo! print exhibit and live poster screen printing event at the gallery. Artists involved in the Yo! show will bring their own silkscreens to the gallery, making posters to be given away to guests at the gallery. Some of the artists scheduled to participate in the screen printing event include Winston Smith, Art Hazelwood, Doug Minkler, Eric Drooker, Mear One, Favianna Rodriguez, and a host of others.

Gee Vaucher: Introspective, at the Jack Hanley Gallery in San Francisco, Dec. 14, 2007 through January 19, 2008. The Gallery is located at: 395 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.

Art Call: Stop violence against Women

The other day, while sitting in my old truck at an intersection in the rapidly gentrifying NoHo Arts District of Los Angeles, California, two twenty-something young men sailed though the pedestrian crosswalk on skateboards. One wore a brand new black T-shirt with a big bold message screen-printed on the front in bright Day-Glo orange. Its infuriatingly misogynist message audaciously shouted, “Bitch F**ks, Gets Money” - and no, the T-shirt did not make use of double asterisks.

After first wondering how the contemptible twerp managed to wear such a T-shirt on a public street without receiving a sound thrashing, I began to angrily brood over our society regressing when it comes to the issue of sexism. That we find ourselves in such a deplorable condition presents us with a profound moral, cultural, and political crisis. As luck would have it, upon reaching home and checking my e-mail, I had been sent an Artists Call for an International Women’s Day themed exhibition organized by Amnesty International USA and Avenue 50 Studio of L.A. I’m enthusiastically submitting an entry to the show, and urge all likeminded artists to follow suit. The press release issued for the project follows:

Call for Entries
¡Presente! Homenaje a la Mujer

Amnesty International USA and Avenue 50 Studio announce a call to artists for the ¡Presente! Homenaje a la Mujer art exhibition. The show will run throughout the month of March 2008, in commemoration of International Women’s Day.

The purpose of the art exhibition is to celebrate women, while at the same time creating awareness of Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign. Both men and women artists are welcomed to enter. All 2- and 3- dimensional media invited. Please limit one entry per artist. Images of entries must be emailed no later than January 1, 2008 to and should include artist’s name, title of work, medium, and dimensions.

Jury will consist of Kathy Gallegos, Director, Avenue 50 Studio, Liliana Herrera, Latino Outreach Coordinator, AIUSA, and Julissa Gómez, Field Organizer, AIUSA.

A month-long exhibition of ¡Presente! Homenaje a la Mujer will be held at the Avenue 50 Studio, 131 No. Avenue 50, Highland Park, CA 90042 (323) 258-1435, with an opening reception on Saturday, March 8, 2008.

Images of entries mailed no later than: January 1, 2008
Notification of inclusion in exhibition: January 31, 2008
Exhibition Opening Date: March 8, 2008

Call For Art: Feminist Posters

The L.A. based Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) has published a call for artists to submit poster art for its upcoming exhibition, Reclaiming the “F” Word: Posters on International Feminism. Reading from the CSPG press release:

Reclaiming the ‘F’ Word is scheduled to premiere March 2008 at the Art Galleries, California State University, Northridge. The exhibit will feature posters about the ongoing struggle for women’s rights, showing us that feminism must not be treated like a dirty word. Your posters will impact and educate a large audience of artists, community activists, university and high school faculty and students. Submission deadline: December 15, 2007. Criteria for posters: 1) Works must be produced in multiples such as silkscreen, offset, stencil, litho, digital output, etc. 2) Works must have overt political content.”

Accepted submissions will be exhibited but also made part CSPG’s extensive permanent collection/archive. CSPG maintains the largest archive of post-World War II political posters in the U.S., holding more than 60,000 domestic and international posters. For more information, contact the CSPG, at: 8124 West Third Street, Suite 211 Los Angeles, CA 90048-4039. Phone: 323-653-4662. E-mail: Web:

Poster by Frémez

[ Poster by Cuban artist José Gómez Fresquet (Frémez), circa 1970. Silkscreen on paper 18 3/8 x 24 1/8 inches. Collection of the CSPG. Originally created as an antiwar statement in solidarity with Vietnamese women, it’s uncertain if Frémez even gave his eye-catching poster a title. Always one of my favorite graphic images, this poster’s minimalist approach immediately made the connection between the objectification of women and the violence done against them. Needless to say the poster also brought up questions of race and class. The poster was reprinted, distributed and popularized in the U.S. by the then operating feminist art group, the Chicago Women’s Graphic Collective. ]