Posts Tagged 'Guerrilla Girls'

Patches with a Purpose

The Guerrilla Girls exhibition is in its final week on view at the DMA. For the last few months, the posters, books, and videos in the gallery have prompted a lot of questions, including the often overheard “What’s the deal with the gorilla masks?”

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The Guerrilla Girls are an anonymous collective of women artists who draw attention to sexism and racism in the art world. To borrow their words, without women and people of color represented in the art world “you’re seeing less than half the picture.” Using bold protest art and guerrilla-style marketing techniques (hence their name and use of gorilla masks, as a play on words), they demonstrate how images are a powerful way to send messages to others.

Consider what is important to you. When you think about those things, is there an image or symbol that comes to mind? Taking inspiration from the Guerrilla Girls, here’s a way to broadcast that idea or cause through a DIY iron-on patch.

Materials Needed
Felt or fabric
Embroidery floss
Embroidery hoop
Tapestry needle
Scissors
HeatnBond iron-on adhesive sheet
Iron
Threader (optional)

Using the screw at the top, loosen and separate the two rings of your embroidery hoop. Load the embroidery hoop with the felt or fabric of your choice, placing the fabric on top of the smaller ring and closing the larger ring around it to hold the fabric in place.

Tip: The hoop stretches the fabric tight to create tension. If the fabric sags in the middle, pull the edges before tightening the hoop screw all the way.

Thread your needle with the first color of embroidery floss, tying off one end. Start your design from the back side of the hoop, pulling the needle straight through the fabric. Create the first stitch by pulling the needle straight back down through the fabric. When you’d like to switch colors, simply tie the floss off on the back and repeat the process.

Tip: Keeping the needle straight and avoiding pulling hard keeps the stitches even and fabric wrinkle-free. Knowing how to sew makes embroidery pretty intuitive, but different kinds of stitches create different textures and effects. DMC Embroidery has great resources for those looking to learn new techniques.  

Once you finish your design, make sure all the thread is tied off on the back, and any loose threads are trimmed.

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HeatnBond adhesive sheets will make the design into a patch. HeatnBond is two sided, with a shiny, textured plastic side and a paper side. Cut a piece of HeatnBond large enough to cover the design and place it on the backside of the fabric, with the paper side of the HeatnBond facing up. Pass an iron set on medium heat over the HeatnBond for approximately 30 seconds, ensuring that the iron passes over the edges and corners of the adhesive. Make sure that the HeatnBond is completely adhered to the fabric; no corners or edges should lift.

Once the fabric has cooled, use scissors to trim around the design. The HeatnBond seals the fabric, so no hemming is needed. After the design is cut to size, remove the paper backing from the back of the design. Underneath, the plastic should be smooth and shiny. Now the patch can be ironed onto another piece of fabric, like a jacket or backpack.

Be sure to visit The Guerrilla Girls before it closes on September 30. If you liked this project, join us at our upcoming workshops for families, teens, and adults to get your make on.

Jessica Thompson is the Manager of Teen Programs at the DMA.

Who Are the Guerrilla Girls?

We’re excited to have selections from the Guerrilla Girls’ Portfolio Compleat on view through September 9, 2018, in the Rachofsky Quadrant Gallery. But you might be wondering “who are the Guerrilla Girls” . . .

In their own words:

The Guerrilla Girls are feminist activist artists. Over 55 people have been members over the years, some for weeks, some for decades. Our anonymity keeps the focus on the issues, and away from who we might be. We wear gorilla masks in public and use facts, humor, and outrageous visuals to expose gender and ethnic bias as well as corruption in politics, art, film, and pop culture. We undermine the idea of a mainstream narrative by revealing the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, and the downright unfair. We believe in an intersectional feminism that fights discrimination and supports human rights for all people and all genders. We have done over 100 street projects, posters, and stickers all over the world. . . . We also do projects and exhibitions at museums, attacking them for their bad behavior and discriminatory practices right on their own walls. . . . We could be anyone. We are everywhere. (guerrillagirls.com)

The Portfolio Compleat is a new acquisition to the DMA’s collection. The works span more than two decades, but many of them are now as relevant as ever. Since they started, the Guerrilla Girls have been prolific, accumulating a large catalogue over time. We chose to display the works as you see them below, so that visitors can read a large number of the posters and see the wide reach of their artistic complaints.

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The videos in this space point to issues like the lack of non-male, non-white representation within specific institutions. As a large, encyclopedic museum, the DMA could be listed among the museums under critique. In recent years, our curators have sought to be more inclusive in the works we show and collect. Currently on view are many works and multiple exhibitions by women artists. But, of course, this is an ongoing conversation with a long road ahead.

In the central seating area, we have provided books created by the Guerrilla Girls that are reminiscent of zines. Zines are self-published magazines or artist books associated with niche subcultures that are usually produced via photocopier and distributed for low to no cost. They gained popularity in the US in the 1990s as an artistic expression, but the format has long existed as a method of political dissent.

Many of the Guerrilla Girls’ works and books are available for purchase on the group’s website. They try to make them accessible to typical museum visitors rather than art collectors. This allows their viewers, and anyone who is so inclined, to become an art collector instead of perpetuating a system where the same one percent decide the direction of the art world. According to the group’s website, “Everything you buy supports our efforts to expose discrimination and corruption!”

Zines, posters, and Guerrilla-style videos are something that anyone can create for a relatively low cost. The Guerrilla Girls’ message is all about breaking down barriers to art to show that it can be cheap to create, easy to disseminate, and indiscriminate in whose message is important. This is also why they use the style of street advertising and employ humor and pop culture to get their message across.

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The Guerrilla Girls are now internationally relevant and more active than ever. We are pleased to present this portfolio to the public and encourage its message of thoughtful and critical viewership.

Skye Malish-Olson is an Exhibition Designer at the DMA.

The Two Käthes

Join us for Late Night this Friday when we will host artist Käthe Kollwitz of the feminist activist art collective the Guerrilla Girls as part of a celebration of women artists featured in Visions of America. For more than thirty years, women artists from across the country have donned gorilla masks and joined the ranks of the Guerrilla Girls to produce public art campaigns that raise awareness about gender and ethnic discrimination in the art world and beyond. Having decided early on that the members of the Guerrilla Girls would remain anonymous, they took this opportunity to shine some limelight on great women artists of the past by assuming the names of pioneers like Käthe Kollwitz, Frida Kahlo, and Zubeida Agha.

Guerrilla Girls at the Abrons Art Center, 2015

In an interview for the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art Oral History Program, Käthe explained the origin of their pseudonyms.

“Eventually we realized that we needed individual names within the Guerrilla Girls.  When we went places in a group or in pairs, we needed to be individuals in some way.  So this idea came up to have dead women artists as pseudonyms, and it was a useful idea because art historians were re-finding and representing the work of a lot of women artists from history.  Most of the pseudonyms that people took were artists they’d never heard of before they started and only discovered when they read up on women artists, looking for a name.”

Käthe’s own namesake, Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945), was a German printmaker and sculptor who also addressed social injustice in her work. She also happens to be well represented in the DMA’s collection

Kollwitz’s work is at times touching and heart-wrenching with intimate portraits of mothers with their children as well as genre scenes depicting the plight of the urban poor. Her subjects are often gaunt figures whose shadowy eyes and pained poses speak volumes about the dire circumstances under which they lived. Having endured multiple personal tragedies and both world wars, she was an artist who did not shy away from showing the realities of war, poverty, and loss.

Käthe Kollwitz, Revolt (Sturm), 1897, Etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg, 2000.192.FA

Remarking on how she arrived at the pseudonym Käthe Kollwitz, the artist said, “It’s very personal for everybody.  Käthe Kollwitz is not my all-time favorite artist, but she’s a great role model.  She was an activist as well as an artist.  She didn’t believe in the expensive, fancy art system.  She did a lot of cheap prints that she gave and sold very cheaply.  She did a lot of work about working people, about women and children, even work about sex.  She was a fierce woman artist.”

Over 70 years after Kollwitz’s death the Guerrilla Girls are continuing the practice of using art to raise awareness. Reflecting on their own 30 year legacy, Käthe will speak about favorite projects and how the group has approached activism in their work. For more information about this and other Late Night programs, visit DMA.org.

Jessie Frazier is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA


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