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home : readerswrite : bookshelf June 28, 2017

Igniting new voices in art
" The goal of igniting a conversation between generations - of bringing millennials into contact with earlier waves of feminism - has had some unintended consequences."
- Kerry Morgan

by Kerry Morgan


The opportunity to meet monthly with a group of intelligent, thoughtful and socially committed women in the arts has been, without doubt, the highlight of helping to coordinate the Guerrilla Girls Twin Cities Takeover.

Our steering committee, ranging in age from our 20s to our 60s, met regularly beginning in spring 2014 to plan an ambitious collaborative project that would bring a sustained focus to feminist and activist art-related activities in the metro area and beyond.

From the onset this group embraced a decentered power structure in which every person seated at the table was able to shape the conversations and to propose ideas. Fittingly, the Common Roots Common Room and the Wedge Community Table in Minneapolis served as our meeting places - outside the domain of a single institution.

The non-hierarchical decision-making process fostered a feeling of collegiality that I rarely have felt so strongly. By pooling monetary resources, knowledge and networks, a project that started out as three institutions grew exponentially into a platform in which anyone who wanted to host an activist event or exhibition was welcome to do so.

The Guerrilla Girls have been critiquing sexism and racism in the art world and other spheres of culture and politics for 30 years. Their longevity is proof of both how much things have changed and how much they have remained the same. They have been advocates for inclusivity. This is one of the main reasons this internationally known yet anonymous feminist collective has been to Minnesota three times in six months.

The Guerrilla Girls attract increased attention to what is already present in our communities but is underappreciated and underacknowledged - the voices of the discontented, the voices of youth, the voices of those who do not identify with dominant culture and wish to challenge it.

The goal of igniting a conversation between generations -- of bringing millennials into contact with earlier waves of feminism -- has had some unintended consequences. By hosting Guerrilla Girls presentations and workshops for older teens and young adults, we thought that we were creating a framework for them to give voice to their concerns. But the youth do not necessarily identify with what the Guerrilla Girls represent. Many of these young people are not interested in signs and slogans that reify the idea that gender is fixed, that our genitalia dictate our gender. They will likely never embrace the F-word, because feminism might have lost its applicability for them.

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But I continue to be cautiously optimistic that, whether or not you are 16 or 66, there are ways of being in the world and advocating for a world that makes more opportunities for people instead of fewer. I look forward to new monthly meetings, with more college students, who will continue to challenge me and change me, for the better.

Kerry Morgan is the director of gallery and exhibition programs at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the program director of the Jerome Foundation Fellowships for Emerging Artists and the McKnight Fellowships for Visual Artists.

BOOKSHELF:
Kerry Morgan recommends these books by women artists, writers and scholars who have explored, expounded upon and enlivened the real and fictional challenges of artists who happen to identify as women.
The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art by the Guerrilla Girls
The Pink Glass Swan: Selected Essays on Feminist Art by Lucy R. Lippard
Leaving Art: Writings on Performance, Politics, and Publics, 1974-2007 by Suzanne Lacy
Lee Lozano: Dropout Piece by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer
The Blazing World: A Novel by Siri Hustvedt

What's on your bookshelf?

Send us 450 words about your booklife, plus your list of five related books by women authors. editor@womenspress.com





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