(Photo: Frances Meng-Frecker)
By: Frances Meng-Frecker, Photography Editor
On Thursday, November 2, The Guerrilla Girls came to Regis to talk about the activism they do and why they do it. It was an excellent talk, and I highly suggest you go read about that event here. I was also lucky enough to be able to attend a workshop they held the next morning on Friday, Nov., 3rd in the O’Sullivan Art Gallery. Students, faculty, and artists came together to listen to the Guerrilla Girls and discuss what change needs to be made in society. Each group focused on one thing they wanted to change, made posters, and came up with ideas that would be most effective. Topics included sexual assault, the word feminist, DACA, lack of females in art history, and more.
Change needs to happen, and we have the power to make that difference. Our first step is complaining. The Guerrilla Girls love to complain, and they want you to complain as well. If we are not happy with something, we need to let people know about it. We can find unique and creative ways to make out voices heard. I had the privilege of interviewing The Guerrilla Girls before the workshop, and that interview is located below.
Highlander (H): You chose names of dead female artists, what are the reasons for selecting the artists you did?
Guerrilla Girls (GG): I have always admired Shigeko Kubota. The same week that I was joining the Guerrilla Girls she passed away, and it was kind of like a sign that I needed to honor her name. And it is lovely to me that if I send an email under her name that people might wonder who this artist is and come to find out that she was one of the pioneers of the art world and there is little known about her. Kathe Kollwitz was a German artist who lived from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. She was very politically active. In addition to being an artist, she was an activist, which I relate. She did many exciting works, mostly prints, and drawings. She didn’t like art to be expensive, so even if she did an excellent art print, she would do an inexpensive version, which I also relate to as a Guerrilla Girl. A lot of her subjects were workers, women and children and all kinds of political things.
H: What change do you hope to see on college campuses and throughout society?
GG: First of all, there are so many people on college campuses including students and faculty. We all need to fight for more human rights and more diversity in our own country. There are just beautiful people doing great work, but on the other hand, there are still people on opposite sides of our incredibly divided country today, and our goal is to try to change some of those people’s minds.
H: How can we help make a difference in the art world?
GG: There are so many ways. First of all, complain. If you go into a museum, or a gallery and notice that they are only showing white male artists; say something. This is how the Guerrilla Girls started. We started complaining about all this stuff, and sometimes it does help to do things anonymously. Put up signs in the bathroom, or something like that. It’s a slow process, so I think the most important thing doesn't get discouraged. Don’t get discouraged because you can’t do everything. Just do one thing, and if it works, do another, and if it doesn’t work, most importantly, do another.
H: As female artists, how do you think we can be heard and recognized?
GG: Do work. I mean, female artists are being heard and recognized, but the system isn’t moving fast enough. The world of artists is excellent. Artists put their whole lives into their work, and there are fantastic artists out there. Women are here, and they are ready.
H: You currently have exhibitions in Brazil, Ecuador, and New York. Could you tell us about the exhibits and your messages for each?
GG: In Brazil, right now, we have a retrospective of the entire portfolio of Guerrilla Girls posters on display. We also updated and translated two of our signs to Portuguese. And through that exhibition, we like to encourage Brazilian artists and people to make their voice heard and empowered women and trans people and all those being persecuted. In Ecuador, we have a three-part exhibition in this incredible old giant building that has been repurposed as an art space. There is a room with giant versions of our work, but we also did the new job just for Ecuador about Ecuador itself. When we are in an exhibition in a museum, we almost always do critical work of the museum or the art world of the country we are in. Then we have a bunch of videos because we make a lot of videos about different activists, and then we have a room that is entirely chalkboard. On the chalkboard, in Spanish, it says, “I am not a feminist, but if I were, this is what I would complain about.” And it is covered with people writing incredible things. And the show at the Whitney is a group show that has activist art, and it has a bunch of our work in it.
H: How can art, in your opinion, change the world?
GG: I think art does change the world. I ultimately believe that art changes the world. It is a language. Art is every kind of art, not just visual art. It is all about a new way of looking at the world. What every artist does is invent their world no matter what kind of art you do, and as a viewer, you have to participate in that world, and it does change your mind about things and makes you think differently. We do it very overtly, but each artist has to do it in their way.