Ahead of the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 20, an event that brought nearly 500,000 people to the U.S. capital, women artists gathered in New York to display and celebrate their feminist art.
Their group exhibition, “Uprise / Angry Women,” kicked off on Jan. 17 as an effort organized by artist Indira Cesarine to benefit the ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality. The show highlights work by women of color, queer women and women with disabilities, featuring artists from places including Argentina, South Korea and the American Midwest. The artists range in age from 17 to 70.
“This isn’t an exhibit about one segment of the population. This is an exhibit of women in America today,” Cesarine told The Huffington Post.
One work by mixed-media artist Ruth Rodriguez depicts a sketch of a woman overlaid on a color-mixing guide. Much of Rodriguez’s work combines the bright lines of paperwork and official documents with fluid images of women reclining. Rodriguez cites Afro-Cuban artists and American pop culture as her influences.
Another work on display, by collagist Yasmine Diaz, makes use of magazine ads depicting a suited man and two chipper secretaries grinning above and beneath his hulking frame.
“Art has always played a significant role when it comes to representing the sentiments of the populous, and this particular exhibit aims to reflect a true mirror of how many American women are feeling right now,” Cesarine said.
As for the name of the exhibit, Cesarine said it was deliberately chosen to subvert the idea that women with opinions are merely “angry” or unduly emotional. Furthermore, she says that women should feel free to express their anger about topics such as the violent, anti-woman language used by President Donald Trump.
“Women are told from infancy that they have to constantly smile to please others,” Cesarine said. But, she emphasizes, “there is nothing irrational about being angry. It is an emotion we all feel, and I like to encourage women to embrace it and use it as momentum to keep fighting for what they believe in.”
She continued, “The fact that we now have to live in fear of our reproductive rights being stripped away from us is frightening.”
In spite of the exhibition’s title, not all of the artworks on display are overt displays of outrage; some are laced with sadness or made buoyant by humor. A work by Tracy Brown makes use of the offhanded, brightly colored Microsoft Paint aesthetic that harkens back to the 1990s. But she juxtaposes the bubbly look of her work with an emblem of anger: a nail-polished middle finger.
“I think art can help channel a lot of the emotions in a positive way and encourage critical dialogue on the subjects,” Cesarine concluded. “I want viewers to feel the range of emotions and sentiments these artists bring forth in their work, whether is sad, angry, serious or satirical.”
”Uprise / Angry Women” is on view at Untitled Space in New York from Jan. 17 to Jan 28.