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‘Guerrilla Girls’ examines feminism in art

MIDDLEBURY — Now on view at the Middlebury College Museum of Art, the exhibition “Guerrilla Girls: Art in Action” features 13 politically charged posters that showcase the history of the Guerrilla Girls’ activism and encourage viewers to question the ethics of the art world. On Thursday, April 17, Guerrilla Girl Frida Kahlo will add a vibrant, first-hand dimension to the exhibition. She will give a lecture and performance at 7 p.m. in the Dance Theatre of the Mahaney Center for the Arts.
Curated by 12 current students, the exhibition was produced through the J-term course “Art, Performance, and Activism” taught by Chief Curator Emmie Donadio.
From the time of their first appearance in New York in 1985, the Guerrilla Girls have seen themselves as the “conscience of the art world.” This band of anonymous female artists undertook the task of exposing discrimination in the art world. They utilized bold statistics to illustrate inequality, and they plastered posters that mimicked advertising strategies with these facts in the trendy neighborhood of art galleries in Manhattan’s Soho district. Although they began by tackling issues of gender inequality specifically in the art world, the Guerrilla Girls expanded their mission to advocate for fair representation of women of color and their targeted institutions moved beyond the art world to New York’s theater world, Hollywood, and art exhibitions on every continent.
In addition to bringing light to their cause, the Guerrilla Girls themselves were brought into the public eye. To retain their anonymity amidst their growing fame, they donned gorilla masks and adopted the pseudonyms of dead women artists like “Frida Kahlo” and “Kathe Kollwitz.”
The Guerrilla Girls’ decades of influence are documented in the museum’s edition of the “Portfolio Compleat, Posters 1985-2008.” Students in the “Art, Performance, and Activism” course used this portfolio of more than 80 posters as a primary source for their study of the history of performance art, specifically examining the impact of the Guerrilla Girls within that movement. With Donadio’s guidance they selected 13 posters to showcase the legacy and influence of the Guerrilla Girls. The exhibition’s narrative and informational texts are all student-generated.
“Guerrilla Girls: Art in Action” will remain on view in the Museum’s Overbrook Gallery through Sunday, May 25.
The Middlebury College Museum of Art, located in the Mahaney Center for the Arts on Route 30 on the southern edge of campus, is free and open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed Mondays. The museum is physically accessible. Parking is available in the Mahaney Center for the Arts parking lot. For further information and to confirm dates and times of scheduled events, call (802) 443-5007 or TTY (802) 443-3155, or visit the museum’s website at museum.middlebury.edu.

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