Opening the week of both the presidential inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington, ‘Uprise / Angry Women’ is an exhibition of the work of 80 female contemporary artists created in response to the political climate in America.
Curated by gallery director Indira Cesarine, the exhibition called for submissions on November 10 and received them from over 400 artists. “In the end we selected 80 works of art, each by a different artist,” explains Cesarine, “which was really the maximum due to space limitations at the gallery.”
The show is in partnership with the ERA Coalition, a political organization campaigning for equal rights, and a portion of proceeds will be going to their Fund for Women’s Equality. An event at the gallery on January 22 will also mark the 44th anniversary of Roe vs Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling in favour of a woman’s right to abortion, which the incoming administration may attempt to overturn.
“I initially titled the show ‘Angry Women’,” explains Cesarine, “to not only channel the rage that women are feeling right now, but also to challenge the stereotype of women who are powerful or strong as being ‘angry’.”
“I think it's important to challenge these stereotypes and use what is used against women as a tool for change and empowerment,” she adds. “I decided later to add the title ‘Uprise’ to encourage solidarity, and the strength women can have joining together for a common goal.”
GOOD TROUBLE: Was there an exact moment that you decided to do this show, and why was that?
INDIRA CESARINE: The day the election results were announced, I felt compelled to start working on the exhibit. I was horrified our country had elected a future president who openly discriminates against so many others. His sexist, racist, xenophobic politics are appalling by any standards. We had elected a man with numerous sexual assault allegations against him, who is determined to roll back women’s rights, and thinks that “grabbing pussy” is his prerogative. The works in Uprise / Angry Women raise awareness of how women in America are feeling right now regarding the situation.
What was the process of requesting submissions and how did that go?
This is the first exhibit we have done at The Untitled Space that was open to submissions. I felt it was important for the exhibit to reflect how women are feeling right now, and to have artists from all over the country with diverse backgrounds represented in the show. Many of the artists created new works of art specifically for the exhibit. It was incredibly difficult to narrow down the works, as so many of the pieces were powerful.
With exhibitions like this, and the upcoming Women's March in DC, have you been encouraged by women taking the lead in the current protest movement?
I think it is a very important time in history for women to join together to fight for our rights… I am very encouraged by the women who are speaking out right now, with activism and protests, and I hope it continues. I attended several protests following the November 8 results and plan to attend the Women’s March in Washington. It is incredible that in 2017, we still do not have an Equal Rights Amendment in the US Constitution that protects women from sexism. Women are faced with a very serious threat right now with our future president’s anti-abortion stance, and overall misogynist attitudes, and I think its not surprising that women are taking the lead with regards to the protest movement against him.
What role does culture in general and art in particular have to play in the current protest movement?
Throughout history, art has always played a significant role when it comes to representing the sentiments of an era… Culturally speaking, art can be a catalyst for change, and can be an act of protest in itself. These artworks not only shed light on the issues, they encourage the protest movement to keep fighting, and give hope to those that feel lost or frustrated by the current political situation that they are not alone.
Were there any particular artworks that stood out and why?
We had such a varied response of works – from anger to fear, sadness, and humour. I wouldn’t be able to pick just one that stands out, as I think each artist brought such a unique sensibility to the subject. We have artwork from emerging 17-year-old artists, to very established artists who have exhibited in major museums. A few I think are worth noting as having particularly strong artists statements –
Cara Deangelis, “Donald Trump With A Crown Of Road Kill”
“DONALD TRUMP WITH A CROWN OF ROADKILL” was painted after the Access Hollywood tapes came out, followed by a dozen women’s testimonies that confirmed what he said on the tape was true. During those weeks it seemed absolutely impossible that he would ever become elected President. He was elected President despite all his ineptitudes and immorality…"
Linda Friedman Schmidt, “Weeding”
“Discarded clothing is my paint, a metaphor for worn, tired, used, and abused humanity I rescue and transform in my process. I assemble, bring together, and combine disparate pieces of people to create an integrated, unified, harmonious new whole… Pointing the finger at people who do not fit familiar patterns of one’s own race, religion, gender, culture, morality, or politics and labeling them weeds hides their humanity and justifies their uprooting and destruction.”
Daniela Raytchev, “Liberty”
"The artwork is a metaphor for bringing the power back to women, crowning the part of our body that defines our gender, with a symbol inspiring contemplation, debate and a protest, of ideals such as democracy, liberty, peace, human rights and opportunity. It reminds us of the ideals that the Statue of Liberty stood for in the past, that women and men collectively still need to fight for, especially now in the times of the current political and social instability that causes anxiety and fearmongering in masses.”
Jennifer Dwyer, “Current Mood”
“Our current political and social climate is arguably the most divisive, chaotic, and turbulent period that anyone of my generation or younger has ever experienced in this country. Having always been interested in women’s bodies – this election, once again, made it apparent how women’s stories of sexual subjugation and violence are socially minimized and repressed as taboo… It's important not to let our president elect’s hate speech become normalized.”
Mila Rochenner "Wrong Side Feelings"
“History has demonstrated that democracy is a fragile system, and the bitch of fascism is always at prey. I believe that in the midst of antagonism from the radical right, it is our responsibility as women artists to generate our ideological space… My personal experiences as an immigrant woman are my subject. The work conveys the feelings of angst which can relate to the fears left from the elect government and the national political terrorism we are experiencing in this time.”
Kristen Williams, “F$@KTrump”
“I’m angry at America for electing a reality TV star, racist, misongynist, to be our new commander in chief, I’m angry at the government for running pipelines through sacred land and contaminating water all for the sake of a dollar or oil or whatever. I’m angry that women in this country still make less money than men, not to mention women of color, make even less. I am angry for so many reasons and the list could go on and on. My way of dealing with this anger is not to pick up a gun, not to fight physically, but to pick up my paintbrush and to put my feelings on canvas.”
Uprise / Angry Women January 17–28
The Untitled Space Gallery. 45 Lispenard Street, Unit 1W NYC 10013
Support ERA Action www.eraaction.org 'The proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) states that the rights guaranteed by the Constitution apply equally to all persons regardless of their sex.'
Attend the Women's March in Washington on January 21 www.womensmarch.com
Writer and editor based in New York.