Guerrilla Girls “Not Ready to Make Nice" at Walsh Art Gallery
Featuring rarely-shown works by the ground-breaking, feminist-activist artists collective, the Guerrilla Girls, and an appearance by one of the original members of the group (Sept. 23, Barone Campus Center), the University’s Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery presents its newest exhibition, Not Ready to Make Nice: Guerrilla Girls in the Artworld and Beyond, on view from Thursday, September 4, 2014, through Friday, November 14, 2014. The Gallery is located in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.
Not Ready to Make Nice: Guerrilla Girls in the Artworld and Beyond is a multimedia exhibition that documents and contextualizes the historical and ongoing work of the Guerrilla Girls, focusing primarily on work from the past decade. Appearing only in gorilla masks and assuming the names of dead women artists, this important activist group has kept its anonymity intact for nearly three decades, using an enigmatic approach to uncover truths about sexism and prejudice in the art world and beyond. Fighting for equality and social change, the Guerrilla Girls have remained powerfully and consistently active since their groundbreaking arrival on the art scene in 1985. Beginning with their famous poster campaigns of the 1980s and continuing with large-scale international projects, the Guerrilla Girls fearlessly took on the art establishment in ways that were both radical and revealing. Using “facts, humor, and fake fur,” they exposed the discriminatory collecting and exhibiting practices of the most famous and powerful art dealers, curators, and collectors. Expanding their work to include non-visual arts media in the 1990s, the Guerrilla Girls have more recently scrutinized the lack of women film directors, homelessness, and the environmental crisis.
Not Ready to Make Nice: Guerrilla Girls in the Artworld and Beyond is drawn primarily from work of the past decade and consists of rarely shown projects that trace the collective’s artistic and activist influence around the globe. In addition, a selection of iconic work from the ‘80s and ‘90s illustrates the formative development of the group’s philosophy and their conceptual approach to arts activism. Documentary material, including ephemera, behind-the-scenes photos, and secret anecdotes, reveal the Guerrilla Girls’ process and the events that drive their incisive institutional interventions. Visitors can peruse the artists’ favorite “love letters and hate mail,” and are invited to contribute their own voices to interactive installations. Not Ready to Make Nice was curated by Neysa Page-Lieberman and organized by Columbia College, Chicago.
Fairfield students in select College of Arts and Sciences studio art and art history classes were also able to add their voices to the installation. Using Guerilla Girls’ posters that were printed with permission from GG, students applied them to 8 x 4 plywood panels and used spray paint, oil sticks, wheat paste, and pastels “to reflect the original Guerrilla Girls’ method of displaying their posters on the streets of New York City in the 1980s,” said Dr. Marice Rose, associate professor of art history.
Dr. Rose and Jo Yarrington, professor of studio art, taught the courses where students made the boards, two of which will be part of the exhibit in the Walsh Gallery. The third board will be placed in the Barone Campus Center to raise awareness about the exhibit.
“The art history seminar on Women in Art is focusing on activist art, and was built around this exhibition,” said Dr. Rose. “To make the sign that will advertise the exhibit in the BCC, the students chose the Guerrilla Girls’ posters that they thought would speak most strongly to undergrads. It was a powerful learning experience for the students to engage in a hands-on way with the purpose, message, and aesthetics of the Guerrilla Girls' original works.”
Brigid Callahan ’16, psychology major and studio art minor, who participated in the project through Professor Yarrington’s Foundation Drawing class, said, “This project was really interesting. I’ve heard of the Guerrilla Girls before in other art projects I’ve been connected to, so this was very exciting for me.”
Jay Walsh ’17, a communication major, was similarly impressed. “I have no art background at all so for us to not just look at art but create it has been really cool.”
Exhibition programming includes a free public lecture at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 23, featuring, “Frida Kahlo,” an original member of the Guerrilla Girls, together with Q & A with the exhibition’s curator, Neysa Page-Lieberman. Entitled “A Guerrilla Girls Gig: A Dialogue on Discrimination in Art, Media, and Politics” the program takes place in the Oak Room of the Barone Campus Center and is supported in part by a grant from the Humanities Institute, College of Arts and Sciences. The Westport Arts Center is a community partner for this event. On Thursday, October 23, from 12 to 1 p.m., a gallery talk, free and open to the public, with Dr. Marice Rose, associate professor of art history, will take place in the Walsh Art Gallery. On Saturday, November 8, a Family Day, sponsored by Morris Media, takes place at the Bellarmine Museum of Art, complementing this exhibition with the theme of “Street Art.” The Museum will be open from 12 to 5 p.m. on that day, with free activities for children from 1 to 4 p.m.
Admission to the Walsh Art Gallery is free. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed Sunday and Monday). The Gallery is also open one hour prior to curtain and during intermission of Quick Center performances and closed at any time the Quick Center is closed for the holidays.