Judy Shintani, Pledge Allegiance
Title Pledge Allegiance
Medium Repurposed wood, barbed wire
Dimension 24” x 48” x12”
I am an interdisciplinary artist exploring the intersections of culture and history through making installations and assemblages. Top of mind to me is how the past repeats itself. I am connected to a collective of those who have experienced trauma by being “the other” throughout history and into present time. My art making allows me to explore different shades of humanity, creating contemplative work for the public to experience, learn, and dialog about American history that is often not discussed.
This weathered American flag is created from remains of a dilapidated barrack, gathered with my father during a pilgrimage to the Tule Lake Segregation Camp. How did my grandparents and father and siblings survive imprisonment and then come out into a world that did not want them to move back to their home and livelihood in the Pacific Northwest?
As a descendant of an incarceree I was raised to not make waves, to be unseen, and a model American citizen who could never escape her appearance. It is my mission to illuminate this discrimination from 76 years ago and to see the parallels to what is happening today to Muslims, Mexicans, African Americans, immigrants, and refugees in America.
Judy Shintani, El Granada, California
Judy Shintani’s art focuses on remembrance, connection, and storytelling. She makes assemblages, produces installations, creates performances, and facilitates social engagement activities to generate visual stories that bring vital issues to light. She has exhibited in worldwide and was an artist in residence at Vermont Studio Center, Santa Fe Art Institute, Creativity Explored for Disabled Adults, and with ISKME’s Big Idea Fest. Shintani speaks about Asian American Art and historical trauma at venues including SF State, De Anza College, ArtXchange in Seattle, Center for Contemporary for Art Santa Fe, 516 Arts in Albuquerque, University of Pittsburgh, and Springfield College, MA. She founded the Kitsune Community Art Studio in Half Moon Bay and is a teaching artist at Creativity Explored for Disabled Adults and FootHill College, and has taught with the Institute on Aging. Shintani is a member of the Asian American Women’s Artist Association and on the board of the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art. Judy has a Masters in Transformative Art from JFK University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Graphic Design from San Jose State University.
Emily Sano Responds
Shintani's flag of barbed wire and desiccated wood, made from scraps gathered at the former Tule Lake Internment Camp, reminds me of Poston, AZ, where my family was interned during WWII. The U.S. forcibly removed 160,000 people from their homes and property and confined them for several years in remote desolation. Yet, these Japanese-Americans endured their losses by building community gardens, sports teams, scout troops and schools, and even sent volunteers to fight with American troops in Europe. Generations later, as the internees integrated back into society, America has recognized the internment was shameful and wrong.
This flag is more than a reminder of a tarnished historical event. In a climate of social division, intolerance, violence and hate, it warns us that the unthinkable can happen again. Will those who promote fair play, racial equality, free speech, and ethical behavior become a marginalized group for whom our symbol of national unity feels like iron barbs in their skin and dust in their mouths? Shintani's flag protests those separatist leanings that undermine our sacred American values.
Emily Sano, San Antonio, Texas
I grew up in rural Arkansas, where families from the Poston Camp went to work after being released. In college, I took up Japan studies, and went to Japan in my Junior year. There, I was captivated by the beauty of Japanese art, and I was able to continue to graduate studies in that field. I was privileged to pursue curatorial work in Asian art at important museums. My major position was at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, where I became director, and moved the museum from Golden Gate Park to the Civic Center. After retiring, and moving to Texas, I have taken a position as a curator at the San Antonio Museum of Art.
Mira Schor, Justice Bleeding Out
Title Justice Bleeding Out
Medium oil, ink & gesso on canvas
Dimension 24” x 18” x 1.5”
A day in the studio begins with the instantaneity of response to that day's repellent news, which I can articulate very freely in ink and gouache on paper. The paintings fix and develop some of these moments, enact a scenario, concentrate the rage into as intense a frame as possible. Their surface is a viscous slurry of black oil paint. The blackness is not just spiritual and political darkness. It also represents the way in which, in such a moment, space itself is solid and fights you as you try to move forward, impinges on your freedom. This painting was begun June 30, 2018, three days after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his resignation from the Supreme Court, at the same time as attention to the fate of small children ripped from their parents by trump and sessions' "zero tolerance" immigration policy came into sharp focus. The open book has been an important image, form, and metaphor in my work since the 1970's, as an object of wonder, a layered space of knowledge, and as a symbol of women as being filled with language. In this painting the book of law is turned on its side and "Justice bleeds out." The painting was completed July 4th, 2018.
Mira Schor, New York, New York
Mira Schor is a painter and writer based in New York. Schor has been the recipient of awards in painting from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Marie Walsh Sharpe, and Pollock-Krasner Foundations, as well as the College Art Association's Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism, a Creative Capital / Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for her blog A Year of Positive Thinking. She is the author of Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture and A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life, and co-editor of the journal M/E/A/N/I/N/G. She is Associate Teaching Professor at Parsons Fine Arts. Schor was elected to the National Academy of Design in 2017 and received a 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for the Arts. She is represented by Lyles & King Gallery in New York.
Peggy Phelan Responds
In Mira Schor’s remarkable 2018 painting, Justice Bleeding Out ,
heavy black oil depicts the Book of Law lying on its side. As if
punctured, the word Justice, washed in red, seeps out of the book
and bleeds into the bottom of the painting’s support. Viewers must
tilt their heads to grasp Schor’s urgent message: justice itself may
soon be illegible, irretrievably lost. Justice Bleeding Out calls our
attention to the new fragility of post-Enlightenment categories of
human polity: liberty, justice, and human rights.
Amid the strange tilt-a-whirl of our current political scene, meaning
itself is becoming untethered from the wisdom of the book. An
homage to books both ancient and modern, sacred and secular,
Justice Bleeding Out recognizes that the book helps keep truth
vital. Functioning in the manner of an SOS, Schor’s painting
depicts Justice as a body in danger of dying. The looping cursive
of the word falling across the canvas calls to mind the emptying
out of a box of cracker jacks, or the fading notes of a musical
score. The dramatic seeping away of justice is staged against the
darkness of most of the canvas, begging us to attend to its faint,
but still discernible, pulse.
Peggy Phelan, Palo Alto, California
Peggy Phelan is a Professor at Stanford University. She writes frequently about
contemporary art, feminism, and performance. Her most recent book, with Richard Meyer, is Contact Warhol: Photography Without End (MIT Press and CAntor Arts Center, 2018).
Kristine Mays, modern day lynchings and hashtag memorials
Title modern day lynchings and hashtag memorials
Medium Wire, ribbon and rope
Dimensions 20" x 40" x 9 "
The act of lynching originated during the
American revolution. This act of terrorism is an extreme form of informal group social control, often conducted with the display of a public spectacle for maximum intimidation. In the United States, lynchings of African Americans, typically by hanging, became frequent in the South during the period after the Reconstruction era and especially during the decades on either side of the turn of the 20th century. The political message—the promotion of white
supremacy and black powerlessness—was an important element of the ritual. Fast forward to present day and this type of terrorism comes in the form of black people killed at the hands of the police. Due to social media, these deaths have been recorded and shared worldwide, with the victim’s name often noted as a hashtag in a modern day cataloging of information. The ribbons on the sculpture are hand-stitched with the names of African-Americans killed at the hands of the police. This sculpture was created to reveal the burden and breadth of injustice being inflicted upon people while the media declares these occurrences as isolated instances.
Melinda Alexander Responds
I lied to him. When #PhilandoCastile and #AltonSterling were killed.
He said he was scared of police, and I told him, “Police don’t kill
little kids.” It was a lie, but how do you tell a 6-year-old black boy
that his life actually could be in danger? How do you tell a 6-yearold
black boy that playing in the park while black could get him
killed? He knew about #TamirRice, but I tried to convince him that
police don’t usually kill children.
“Well I don’t want to grow up then, cuz I’ll have to eat salad... and
police might kill me.”
I lied, again.
“We’re working to reform the police, baby. By the time you’re a
grown-up, they might be different. That’s why we’re fighting so hard
to change them.”
We are fighting, but we’ve been fighting for over 25 years—since that day on Florence & Normandie
[site of the LA rebellion] that changed history, since they hosed down black folks at counters just
trying to eat lunch. So I can’t bring myself to tell him about #JordanEdwards, because I’m all out of
lies. They do kill young black boys just like you, baby, and they may never change—cuz they are doing
exactly what they’ve been designed to do.
**From page 88 - Getting Free: A Love Story
Kristine Mays, San Francisco, California
Kristine Mays, a San Francisco native, has been an exhibiting artist since 1993. Her work has been shown within the San Francisco Bay Area as well as nationally, receiving local and national press. Mays has exhibited at Art Basel Miami and presented a solo exhibition at the Scope NYC Art Fair as well. She has created public art for the Hearts in San Francisco program, worked with the San Francisco Art Commission’s Art in Storefronts pilot program, and served as the artist-in-residence at the Bayview Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco. She is a participant in the San Francisco Open Studios program for over 20 years. Kristine has participated in programming at the De Young Museum, Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD) and exhibited at the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles. Using her work to for social change she has participated in raising thousands of dollars for AIDS research through the sale of her work. Her work is displayed in many Bay Area homes and private collections throughout the USA. Her eclectic mix of collectors include Star Wars creator George Lucas and the dearly departed Peggy Cooper Cafritz.
Melinda Alexander, Los Angeles, California
Melinda Alexander does “women’s work”. She is both a student and a teacher. Having studied art, education, and social justice at UCLA (B.A.) and NYU (M.A.), everything she says she really knows she learned from experience. A child of political activists, a woman who has dealt with a marriage that ended in abuse, divorce, single motherhood, self employment, a shit load of healing, and trying again in love—she’s learned a few things about hope and resilience. She shares her journey to get free with women all over the world—in person and online through workshops, consulting, long posts on Instagram, as well as through her new book, Getting Free; A Love Story. She speaks on topics like: Body Image, Style, Spirituality, Feminism, Anti-Racist Engagement, Social Media, Self Development, Motherhood, Recovering from Abuse, Healthy Relationships, Art and Social Justice. She lives in Los Angeles with her artist son and dharma partner and she also has a cute creative and healing space for artist activation called Midcity Magic.
Kate Kretz, Lie Hole
Title Lie Hole
Medium Prismacolor Pencil on black Rives BFK paper
Dimensions 10” x 8”
Creating the Lie Hole series of drawings helped me retain my sanity through 2017. I would not normally be interested in making work that is so nailed down to a specific person, but, this time, I couldn't help myself. I was compelled to draw our new leader’s mouth: swollen with self importance, and hyper-articulated in 12 different ways. An orifice, disembodied… from truth, from decency, from potential consequences. A slimy, aggressive tongue that has forced open countless lips, slithering out of a throat that reeks from decades of undigested beef. A blustering, bragging hole, spouting ignorance, inciting violence, spinning cons, and debasing our country.
Maria Elena Buszek Responds
Kate Kretz has spoken of her creative process as “exorcism through creation,” and few works in her oeuvre reflect this better than her Lie Hole series. While Kretz has taken on the visage of our 45th president before, these stripped-down, but instantly recognizable drawings of only his mouth—distorted into the made-for-TV scowls, snarls, and shouts one recognizes from his every media appearance—have the powerful effect of isolating and disempowering the messages they convey. Floating in a void like the spluttering, raging mouth on stage in Samuel Beckett’s play Not I, Kretz too presents what Beckett called "an organ of emission, without intellect." But the painstaking craft that is visible in each work, created mark by meticulous mark in prismacolor pencil against deep black paper, represents not only her critique of, but a cathartic violence to this disembodied gob and what it represents. As one imagines her laying down each focused slash of color, it’s hard not to think of Kretz conjuring a kind of feminist witchcraft on her subject—each mark a pin to prick, a prayer to protect against, a promise to resist each awful “emission.”
Kate Kretz, Silver Spring, Maryland
Kate Kretz earned a Cours De La Civilisation Francaise certificate at The Sorbonne, and a BFA at SUNY Binghamton, garnering the SUNY Foundation Award for Excellence in the Fine Arts, Harpur College Departmental Honors in Art, and Harpur College Academic Honors. She earned her MFA from the University of Georgia with a university-wide assistantship. Exhibitions include the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, Van Gijn Museum in The Netherlands, Kunstraum Kreuzberg in Berlin, Wignall Museum, Katonah Museum, Frost Museum, Fort Collins MOCA, San Jose Museum of Textiles, Racine Museum of Art, Telfair Museum, Fort Lauderdale Museum, Tsinghua University in Beijing, and the Museo Medici in Italy. She has received the NC Arts Council Grant, The South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship, Florida Visual Arts Fellowship, and a Millay Colony Residency. She recently received the SECAC award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement, and is on the Fulbright Specialist Roster until 2021. After working as an Associate Professor and BFA Director at Florida International University for ten years, she relocated to the Washington, DC, area. Kretz currently works in her studio while teaching part-time, giving workshops and lectures at various universities. She is a frequent contributor to Hyperallergic magazine.
Maria Elena Buszek, Denver, Colorado
Maria Elena Buszek is associate professor of art history at the University of Colorado, Denver, where she teaches courses on Modern and contemporary art. Her recent publications include the books Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture (Duke University Press, 2006) and Extra/Ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art (Duke, 2011); contributions to the exhibition catalogues Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia, and In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States; and articles in Art Journal and TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies. Dr. Buszek has been a regular contributor to the popular feminist magazine Bust since 1999, and, with Kirsty Robertson, recently edited a special issue of Utopian Studies on the subject of “craftivism.” Her current book project explores the ties between feminist art and popular music since 1977.
Sheila Pree Bright, #1960Now: ‘Say Her Name’ Protest, Artist Janelle Monáe and Wonderland Records Members Perform ‘Hell You Talmbout’ Protest Song
Title #1960Now: ‘Say Her Name’ Protest, Artist Janelle Monáe and Wonderland Records Members Perform ‘Hell You Talmbout’ Protest Song
Dimensions 30” x 30”
As major social movements have emerged in the past two years, I’ve documented the tensions, conflicts and responses between communities and police departments that have resulted from police shootings in Atlanta, Ferguson, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. I’ve observed young social activists taking a stand against continued injustice that closely resembles that which their parents and grandparents endured during the era of Jim Crow. By documenting this emerging social movement, I have been able to invite other communities into the on-going conversation. In 2013 while photographing under-recognized living leaders of the Civil Rights movement, I made a connection between today’s times and the climate of the 1960s that inspired the #1960Now project. #1960Now, examines race, gender and generational divides to raise awareness of millennial perspectives on civil and human rights. 1960Now is a photographic series of emerging young leaders affiliated with the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Sheila Pree Bright, Atlanta, Georgia
Sheila Pree Bright is an acclaimed fine-art photographer known for her photographic series Young Americans, Plastic Bodies, and Suburbia. She describes herself in the art world as a visual cultural producer portraying large-scale works that combine a wide-range knowledge of contemporary culture. Bright’s current and most ambitious project to date, #1960Now, which examines race, gender a photographic series of emerging young leaders affiliated with the Black Lives Matter Movement. Bright’s work is in the book and exhibition Posing Beauty in African American Culture. Also, Bright’s photographs appeared in the 2014 feature-length documentary Through the Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People. She has been exhibited at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Smithsonian National Museum of African American Museum, Washington, DC; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland; The Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and the Leica Gallery in New York. She is the recipient of several awards including Center Prize (2006). Her work is included in numerous private and public collections, to name a few; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC, Oppenheimer Collection: Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland, KS, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta, GA, The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, The Museum of Contemporary Art, GA and The Library of Congress, Washington, DC and the University of Georgia, Athens, GA. #1960Now series is now in the collection of the Smithsonian African American History and Culture Museum, Washington, DC; The High Museum of Art, Atlanta; The Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta, GA; City of Atlanta, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and the Pyramid Peak Foundation, Memphis, TN. #1960Now book release is featured in the New York Times and she is included in the documentary film Election Day: Lens Across America.
Likisha Griffin Responds
Janelle Monae Robinson: A Self-Defined Moment In Protest History
Bright’s protest image of celebrity Janelle Monae captures a moment that uplifts the feminine nurturer in the black community.
In this photo, Monae’s elegance and compassion is personified as she stands alongside Alexia Christian’s mother during a local #SayHerName protest in Atlanta, Georgia. The demonstration took place after questions and concerns arose over the police shooting of Christian, who was accused of pointing a gun at police officers in police custody with no sustainable proof— and also the death of Sandra Bland in police custody. Bright captured Monae in a moment of history that speaks to generational experiences of racism in America, which has impacted all classes and caste.
Celebrity culture has always been present in activism as icons like Harry Belafonte, James Brown, Nina Simone and others spoke against Jim Crow laws in the 60s. They experienced entering back doors of performance halls and restaurants due to segregation. Bright has stated, “Black bodies are born into a movement, whether they are conscious of it or not. It’s called the Black Liberation Struggle.” Adorned in a sailor's hat, Monae signifies the representation of being the captain of her own ship. The artist and her label, Wonderland Records, showed solidarity at the Say Her Name protest chanting "Hell You Talmbout.” The oral tradition of expression paid tribute to ancestral connections of those who walked before Monae as celebrities.
Historian and photographer Deborah Willis has examined photography as the tool that self-defined black identity in America as first seen in photo albums of black families, who could afford cameras as early as 1840. Bright’s image of Janelle Monae Robinson belongs to a print and digital album, #1960Now, capturing a present-day visual-narrative of social justice.
Likisha Griffin, Atlanta, Georgia
Likisha "Kiche" Griffin is a Creative Producer and Consultant specializing in brand development for art professionals and independent filmmakers.
Griffin has worked with award-winning visual producer Sheila Pree Bright on branding strategies for #1960Now digital campaigns. She is Co-Producer of Bright’s art film #1960Now: Art + Intersections and an essay contributor to #1960Now, the book, published by Chronicle Books.
Griffin also has worked with museums and art organizations. She is an essay contributor to Prospect 4 New Orleans, a citywide triennial of contemporary art curated by Artistic Director Trevor Schoonmaker. Her contribution to the exhibition catalogue honors the legacy work of MacArthur Fellow John T. Scott.
During her tenure at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum (Smithsonian Affiliate) — she was Community Engagement Curator of Devin Allen: Awakenings in a New Lights. She was also the curatorial assistant of Ruth Starr Rose (1887-1965): Revelations of African American Life in Maryland and the World, curated by Art Historian Barbara Paca, Ph.D. The exhibition was sponsored by Brown Capital Management and featured on ancestry.com.
Favianna Rodriguez, Undocumented, Unafraid
Title Undocumented, Unafraid
Medium Offset Print
Dimensions 18" x 24"
After Arizona’s governor signed an anti-immigrant bill, SB 1070 into law in April 2010, a movement of organizers around the country rose up to fight it. I traveled to Arizona as part of a women’s delegation to document the women and children. At one of the marches, I photographed a young Latina girl in the crowd and developed this poster. The phrase, “Undocumented. Unafraid.” is a term that was born in the immigrant youth movement. This poster was originally commissioned by AltoArizona.com
Favianna Rodriguez, Oakland, California
Favianna Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and activist based in Oakland, California. Her work and collaborative initiatives address migration, economic inequality, gender justice, and ecology. Favianna leads art interventions around the United States at the intersection of art, social justice and cultural equity. Her artistic practices include social practice, visual art, arts advocacy and institution building . Rodriguez collaborates deeply with social movements to co-create cultural strategies that are resilient and transformative. She is the Executive Director of CultureStrike, a national arts organization that engages artists, writers and performers in immigrant rights. In 2012, she was featured in a documentary series by Pharrell Williams titled “Migration is Beautiful” which addressed how artists responded to failed immigrant policy in the United States. In 2016, she received the Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship for her work around mass incarceration. In 2017, she was awarded an Atlantic Fellowship for Racial Equity for her work around racial justice and climate change. Recently she has been organizing with artists in the entertainment industry to build an intersectional artist power movement.
Chimine Arfuso Responds
We were driving to a protest against the detention centers for children being separated from their parents at the Mexican/American border.
My mother was a refugee from Cuba, I often think about what it was like for her being separated from my grandmother at such a young age. Because of circumstances they had to flee separately. What if they had detained my mother? Man-made “borders” man-made “laws” man-made “hierarchies” of privilege and worthiness.
My daughter teared up as I told her about the babies being ripped from their parents’ arms. Even as a five year old she understood what a tragedy this was.
When we got to the protest it was hot. Fresno is not a fun place to protest during the day in the middle of summer. We could not compete with the sweat sliding down our foreheads, drinking water, taking moments underneath a small veil of shade.
We labored in the sun, together, repeating the chants, Justicia para el pueblo, si se puede.
I looked over my shoulder back at my daughter, her brown skin glowing in the sun, proudly holding up her ACLU sign.
Ella no tiene miedo.
Chimine Arfuso, Clovis, California
Chimine Arfuso is a single mama of boy/girl twins, Cubana, PhD researcher, breastfeeding advocate, zumba instructor, soon to be doula, tarot reading, social justice fighting, non-black woman of color feminist, decolonial research methodologist, and passionately pursuing the dissemination of knowledge such that women can make empowered choices about their bodies, babies, sexuality, and spirituality.
Indira Cesarine, EQUAL MEANS EQUAL
Title EQUAL MEANS EQUAL
Medium Neon Sculpture
Dimensions 11” x 14” x 3”
Empowering feminists— these are often a point of departure for my multi-sensory series which challenge the status quo and shed light on oppressive narratives. This is a crucial time in history to stand up against discrimination, sexism and
abuse of power. We must fight for our future.
My neon light sculpture, EQUAL MEANS EQUAL, created in 2018, emphasizes the importance of equal rights for all humans, regardless of gender, which should be guaranteed in our constitution.
Enough is enough. It is time for discrimination and the abuse of power to end.
Susan Kirschbaum Responds
EQUAL MEANS EQUAL
Cast in her ballet pointes
Girls ascend to their toes
They bleed to perfection
On stage, publicly yet no one can see
The monthly shedding (privately)
Another lost chance at motherhood
A tiny death
While men in pink cease to be seen
As virile; confident; worthy of male
A solicitous shade,
Mixing red and white,
The whore and the virgin,
His arrow points upwards,
While Female drops her cross
A burden to bear
In utero and beyond
Time to Break Free.
Indira Cesarine, New York, New York
Indira Cesarine is a multimedia artist who works with photography, video, painting, printmaking and sculpture. A graduate of Columbia University with a triple major in Art History, French and Women’s Studies, she additionally studied art and photography at Parson’s School of Design, International Center of Photography, School of Visual Arts, The Art Students League and the New York Academy of Art. Cesarine had her first solo show at the age of sixteen at Paul Mellon Arts Center. Her work as an artist has been featured internationally at many art galleries, museums and festivals, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mattatuck Museum, CICA Museum, San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, Getty Images Gallery, French Embassy Cultural Center, Art Basel Miami, Cannes Film Festival and the International Festival Photo Mode to name a few. In 2014, her public art sculpture, “The Egg of Light” was exhibited at Rockefeller Center as part of the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt. Her work was auctioned at Sotheby’s New York for the annual “Take Home A Nude” art benefits in 2017 and 2018, and was featured at SCOPE Art Basel (Switzerland) in 2018.
Susan Kirschbaum, New York, New York
Susan Kirschbaum is an author; poet; and former journalist whose articles have been published in myriad publications including the New York Times. Her debut satirical novel Who Town -- about five 'it kids'/media darlings -- has become a local cult hit. She is now developing it for television. Kirschbaum has hosted and curated story telling salons. She was selected to perform her poetry in a program called "The Poetry Experiment: the Future is Female" at La Mama Theatre in 2017.
Salma Arastu, Allah O Akbar
Title Allah O Akbar
Medium Acrylic and paper on board
Dimensions 22" x 48"
“Allah O Akbar”
It is the call to my prayers.
Allah O Akbar, Allah O Akbar Allah O Akbar
I pray every Morning, every day, every night
With gratitude in my heart and in my mind
God is great, God is great, God is great
The terrorist comes and hijacks this phase of mine
Seeking Allah’s help for an action not right
Allah O Akbar, Allah O Akbar Allah O Akbar
And media picks up,
Interprets Killer God is Great!
Who is giving permission to kill the innocent?
We respond with fear, hatred and violence
Leaders rise to ban the Muslim call to prayer
Creating more chaos!
All this happening because of our ignorance
Allah O Akbar, Allah O Akbar Allah O Akbar
Ani Zonneveld Responds
As a practicing Muslim dedicated to eradicating extremism, Salma Arastu’s piece, “Allah O Akbar” deeply resonates with me.
At first glance, the soothing colors and floral patterns are aesthetically pleasing–but the drip from the sword dominates the narrative. Paired with the artist’s statement, one will quickly pick up on the intense political message in the medium. The sharp swordlike image fading into a trickle of paint resembles the weaponizing of “Allah” by the terrorists who have been drawing blood in the name of Islam for decades.
Arastu’s words, “The terrorist comes and hijacks this phrase of mine/The media picks up, /Interprets Killer God is great!” signify the identity struggle Muslims in the West have faced with their faith since 9/11.
Despite the outward noise, in the painting, “Allah” or “The God” faintly covers the surrounding background, reflecting the quiet and encompassing presence it has in the artist’s and my consciousness.
Salma Arastu, Berkeley, California
A native of Rajasthan, Salma Arastu has been creating and exhibiting her paintings internationally since the 1980’s and her art works, whether paintings, sculptures or poetry speak of human universality. Her art form and techniques are greatly inter-woven with Arabic Calligraphy, Miniature Arts and Folk patterns, and major influences through her travels. Born into the Hindu tradition in her native India, and embracing Islam later on, she has enjoyed the beauty of these two distinctive traditions first hand. At birth, she was given the life-defining challenge of a left hand without fingers. As a visual artist she has exhibited widely in more than 40 solo shows nationally and internationally, won several awards including East Bay Community’s fund for artists in 2012 and 2014, City of Berkeley’s Individual Artist grant award in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Three of her works are in public places and she has published five books of her poems and paintings.
Ani Zonneveld, Los Angeles, California
Ani Zonneveld is founder and President of Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), the oldest progressive human rights organization in the U.S. that advocates for women’s rights, LGBTQI inclusion, freedom of expression and freedom of and from belief. Since its inception, Ani has presided over MPV’s expansion to include chapters and affiliates in 12 countries and 19 cities. She is on the U.N. Faith Advisory Council, has organized numerous interfaith arts and music festivals, is the co-editor of MPV’s first book, an anthology titled Progressive Muslim Identities – Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada, executive producer of a video series LGBTQI Rights in Islam, has contributed to many forewords and numerous anthologies. She is a contributor for HuffingtonPost, OpenDemocracy and al-Jazeera. She recently gave her TEDx talk titled Islam: As American As Apple Pie and is the subject of an award winning documentary titled al-imam featuring Ani’s activism works to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. As a Grammy award winning songwriter, she utilizes the power of music and the arts in countering radicalism as she speaks-sings her message of social justice and peace from a progressive Muslim woman’s perspective.
Micah Bazant, Free CeCe
Title Free CeCe
Medium Giclee print
Dimensions 11" x 14"
I made this image to support CeCe McDonald and all trans women and femmes of color who are fighting for their lives. It was created on Transgender Day of Remembrance 2013, to reframe this event towards supporting the survival and leadership of trans feminine people of color.
It includes a variation on the quote, by labor leader Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, who said “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”
As Janet Mock wrote in 2013: “It’s a state of emergency for trans women and trans feminine folk of color...We can’t only celebrate trans women of color in memoriam. We must begin uplifting trans women of color, speaking their names and praises, in their lives.”
Five years later, it is still a state of emergency. Although this epidemic is mostly unacknowledged by white mainstream gay and lesbian movement and society at large, trans women and femmes of color are still being attacked in record numbers every year.
CeCe McDonald was released from prison in 2014, but she continues to fight to live and thrive as a Black trans woman and revolutionary. All sales of this artwork benefit her.
Micah Bazant, Berkeley, California
Daniel B. Coleman Responds
Free CeCe: We honor our queer ancestors while holding strong to our collective responsibility to ensure our people do not become ancestors before their time.
Framing the head of Bazant’s sketch of CeCe McDonald is a call to align with the simultaneity of these accountabilities. Our capacity to organize is the endurance of survival.
The warm colors dancing across McDonald’s smiling face and torso, her left palm that ushers in a call to stop/pause, and her right hand cradling her heart, seem to signal the grace with which so many trans women of color inhabit the world.
Honoring McDonald in this way figures her existence through humanization, juxtaposed against the criminalization she survived. McDonald is presented with the agency to determine the terms of our engagement with her existence. The trap of visibility is clear: there is a direct correlation between the increased visibility of trans women of color and their premature murders.
I echo Assata Shakur in honing in the essence of this work: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Long life to CeCe McDonald.
Daniel B. Coleman, Greensboro, North Carolina
Micah Bazant is a visual artist who works with social justice movements to make change look irresistible. They are a white, trans, Jewish, anti-zionist artist living in the Bay Area and are currently Artist In Residence at the organization, Forward Together.
Daniel B. Coleman (he/they) lives a life-project centered life that de-compartmentalizes his work as an artist, scholar, and organizer between the U.S. South (NC) and the Mexican South (Chiapas). Each of these elements is an integral part of who he is in the world. Daniel is an Assistant Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC Greensboro, a performance artist and choreographer and a transfeminist and abolitionist organizer. As an artist, Daniel has taught and performed throughout México, the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia, Spain, France, Portugal, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Poland, and Estonia.
Patricia A. Montgomery, The Wedding Coat: Story About Domestic Violence
Title The Wedding Coat: Story About Domestic Violence
Medium Fiber art
Dimensions 40" x 44.5" x 10"
The Wedding Coat tells the story about domestic violence. The embroidered words on the sleeves represent the types of violent acts forced on an individual. It can start off with the exchange of hurtful words and name calling. Soon the words turn into a slap across the face or push across the room. It is all about controlling and bullying from the abuser.
Some of the words depicted are: YELLING; PAIN; MANIPULATION, DEPRESSION;
THREATENING and GASLIGHTING.
The shadow figures on the back of the coat represent these aggressive behaviors that an individual experiences during a violent confrontation. A woman is beaten every 9 seconds. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been a victim of domestic violence. These numbers could be higher, since so many domestic violence victims suffer in silence.
The texts on the back of the coat are words of encouragement! How one must believe that she/he is worthy! That you are strong and will not allow someone to hurt you! Don’t be ashamed! Tell your story about domestic violence so that you may inspire others.
Keep this thought in mind: “Never underestimate the power of an extremely PISSED OFF WOMAN!”
Patricia A. Montgomery, Oakland, California
Patricia A. Montgomery is a textile and installation artist. Her artwork focuses on African American historical and mythical stories. Her research into her rich African American past feeds her stories. Modified traditional quilting pattern, bright West African fabrics, Batiks are her canvas and all kinds of threads are her paints. Mixed together she creates textile paintings rich in color and texture that celebrate the rhythms of life. Montgomery was acknowledged by the Alliance for California Traditional Art’s Apprenticeship Program as a Master Quilting Artist. In 2013, she was awarded the Creative Work Fund Grant in Traditional Arts which supported new work and the collaboration with a nonprofit organization. Her historical story quilts transform into a swing coat representing individuals from the Civil Rights Movement. These swing coats tell the stories of unknown heroines and their major contribution to the most important movement of the twentieth century. Montgomery has exhibited nationally and internationally. Now, she is known as the “Coat Lady”. Born in Biloxi, Mississippi and raised in Hempstead, New York until 1979. Montgomery earned a Master of Fine Art from John F. Kennedy University in Berkeley and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Holy Names College. She currently resides in Oakland, California.
Khadijah O. Miller Responds
I think of the song “911” by Wyclef Jean. In the chorus, he sings with Mary J. Blige, “someone please call 911; Tell them I just been shot down; And the bullet’s in my heart; And it’s piercin’ through my soul; Feel my body getting’
cold; Someone please call 911…”
Just as Wyclef Jean moans these lyrics, this wedding coat moans a siren’s alert to domestic violence. Domestic violence kills. Domestic violence aims to kill the spirit, soul, and heart of those attacked. Encroached in something beautiful like this coat with its embroidery and beautiful fabric but etched
within are those words, actions, and feelings that destroy— ”playing games,” “kicking,” “harassment,” “criticizing you,” “control,” and “pain.”
As a child, we heard the lie that “sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us.” The colorful fabric across the back reminds me of sticks and stones, leaves and branches that we see in the fall—as the weather becomes cold and the leaves dry up from the cold and fall—so does the spirit of domestic violence abuse victims. This coat wears their pain. This coat sports their experience. In protest—I mean in contrast, we must marry love, trust, support, truth and action.
Khadijah O. Miller, Chesapeake, Virginia
Khadijah O. Miller is a professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Chair of the Department of History and Interdisciplinary Studies at Norfolk State University, a HBCU located in Virginia. Her research areas include Black Women’s 19th and 20th century history in the U.S. and across the Diaspora. Her recent publications include a co-authored chapter on Michelle Obama and Respectability Politics. She teaches a course, The Black Woman at NSU which highlights, validates and chronicles the interdisciplinarity of Black women’s lives. She is the VP of the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies and serves on a plethora of committees and taskforces at NSU, among which she chairs programming for the University’s Black History and Women’s History months committee, which she enjoys meshing academics with programming outside of the classroom. She is a mother of two daughters who bring her and her husband joy.
Lenore Chinn, RISE RESIST UNITE
Title RISE RESIST UNITE
Medium Modern archival print
Dimensions 20" x 13.4"
RISE RESIST UNITE pictures the People’s Choice Pride 2017
Community Grand Marshal Alex U. Inn, founder of the hip-hop drag
troupe Momma’s Boyz and KINGDOM! Drag King Club. An advocate for justice and equality she was leading that year’s parade and march with a resistance contingent which stood in defiance to the policies and actions of the current Administration.
In solidarity with the resistance movement, that began with the
Women’s March in 2017, San Francisco Pride—born out of protests and
a fight for LGBTQ liberation, this was an opportunity to respond to
threats against the most vulnerable members of the community and
allies under the thematic umbrella “A Celebration of Diversity.”
Nellie Wong Responds
RISE RESIST UNITE
Rise, can’t help but rise, loving and fighting together
Raising our children, ourselves, our ancestors watching from distant
U-turns, no, paths rocky, seas turbulent, tsunamis, wars against
humanity, our skin and bones
No surrender! To you who hide behind closed doors legislating the
separation of immigrant families
Justifying incarceration, waterboarding and torturing, exclusion
Values. What American values, Mr. President, you, the One Percent?
Always we rise, losing our homes, begging for coins on the street Yes, we resist an economic system that throws us into corporate prisons
Bowing not to brutality against our very lives, our material needs, our creative thunder
Listen to the roars in our bodies, black brown red yellow multi-hued, and our genders, human and wise
Mustering with hearts of passion, our working hands, our collective rage, our brilliant minds
Now, as did workers fought for the eight-hour day, women who left abusive men
Believing in a life without domestic violence, without hunger
Uniting now, marching, organizing, drowning out poison of white supremacy, murders of indigenous
women, Trans folk of color
Rising against the seeds of all violence
Building that society of socialist feminism, that verdant spring
Lenore Chinn, San Francisco, California
Lenore Chinn, a native San Franciscan who graduated from San Francisco State College with a B.A. in Sociology, is a painter, photographer, and cultural activist who works to create structures of personal and institutional support that will both sustain critical artistic production and advance movements for social justice. Her current street photography chronicles a rapidly changing socio-political landscape. She was an original member of Lesbians in the Visual Arts, is a co-founder of the Queer Cultural Center and has been active in the Asian American Women Artists Association since the group was founded. From 1988 to 1992 she served on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.
Nellie Wong, San Francisco, California
Nellie Wong’s poetry books are Dreams in Harrison Railroad Park, The Death of Long Steam Lady, Stolen Moments and Breakfast Lunch Dinner, published since the 1970s. Retired as a public worker, she also taught poetry at Mills College and Women Studies at the University of Minnesota. She’s co-featured in the documentary film, Mitsuye and Nellie Asian American Poets and two of her poems are installed in public sites in San Francisco. Long active in the people of color, women and labor movements, Wong contributes her energy to Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party. Her work has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, French and Italian. She was a delegate in the First U.S. Women Writers Tour to China with Alice Walker, Paule Marshall, Tillie Olsen and others. In 2011, Wong was recognized with the naming of a building at Oakland High School (Oakland) where she graduated and worked in the 1950s.
Sheree Rose, Blue Takes Washington
Title Blue Takes Washington
Dimensions 16" x 20"
When I met Bob Flanagan in 1980, I identified as a cis female heterosexual. I was divorced after 14 years of marriage, and had joint custody of my two children. I had been introduced to the second wave of feminism while earning my Master’s Degree in Psychology at Cal State Northridge. I joined a group: The Socialist Feminist Network, mostly comprised of lesbian philosophy professors, who cautioned me that I had been sleeping with the enemy, i.e., straight men! My curiosity aroused, I was more than ready when Bob told me, on our first date, that he was submissive, and that he would devote his life to doing whatever I wanted, both sexually and in our “real” life. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse!
From that life-changing moment, for the next sixteen years, I forged a life-style that encompassed female domination, photography, performance art, political activism, punk music videos, an award-winning documentary, along with an exploration of my own gender and sexual fluidity.
The photo, Blue Takes Washington, was taken at the March on Washington for lesbian, gay, and bi equal rights and liberation, April 1993. Blue was my slave, and she proudly posed in all her butch glory in front of the White House. The photo has lost none its power and is more relevant than ever in today’s political climate.
Sheree Rose, Culver City, California
Sheree Rose has been thrilling, shocking, and exciting audiences around the world, beginning with her collaborative photography and performances with Bob Flanagan in 1981. Their groundbreaking show Visiting Hours opened at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 1994, and travelled to the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. She collaborated with Mike Kelley on the video One Hundred Reasons, as well as with Nine Inch Nails on several music videos. She co-produced the Sundance award-winning documentary, Sick. Since 2011, she has collaborated with British performance artist, Martin O’Brien, in performances in England, New York, and Los Angeles.
Yetta Howard Responds
Sheree Rose’s Blue Takes Washington (1993) is one of many examples of Rose’s work that situates her artistic legacy within queer, feminist, and underground art history in ways that exceed her collaborative performance art practices with Bob Flanagan for which she is often known. In addition to redefining sexual, museum, and subcultural space via BDSM practices, Rose helped initiate the BDSM scene in Los Angeles, which included involvement with the Society of Janus. From 1989-1993, Rose was also an integral part of Club FUCK!, a queer, leathersex, BDSM, and body modification nightclub and performance space. In Blue Takes Washington, the photographic subject is both personal and political: subversively clutching chains in defiance of the White House in the background, Blue, one of Rose’s slaves, boldly displays butch gender while publicly proclaiming involvement in leather culture as a distinctly political act extending beyond the contexts of the 1993 March on Washington.
Yetta Howard, San Diego, California
Yetta Howard is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Co-director of the LGBTQ Research Consortium at San Diego State University. Howard is the author of Ugly Differences: Queer Female Sexuality in the Underground (University of Illinois Press, 2018) and is editing a photography, archival materials, and essay collection, Rated RX: Sheree Rose with and after Bob Flanagan (under contract, Ohio State University Press) in collaboration with ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.
Karen Gutfreund, Suffer the Children (rage/enojadisimo)
There are stories of women lifting cars, somehow becoming a superhero to save their trapped child. To save and protect their children, leaving everything behind, migrant women are walking thousands of miles, hoping, praying, for some help, to escape to safety. Arrive and your child is ripped from your arms and put into cages? It’s unfathomable the anguish they must feel. Who is holding them as they cry and are scared and lonely—who tucks them in at night? The psychological damage being done to these children is incomprehensible with state-sanctioned child abuse. But they’re just “murderers, rapists, diseased, terrorists”—as we are fed a lie “we have to break up families” from our xenophobic, racist President. I see RED, a red-hot fury of anger, I have “zero tolerance.” Is this my America, “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” to treat them as sub-human; are they 3/5 of a person? “They aren’t our kids.” Just as with the brown, Muslim children in the Middle East, living a nightmare that seems will never end, these brown kids at the border, they aren’t ours. If those kids looked like the Gerber Baby—pale skin, blonde hair and blue eyed—it’d be an entirely different story. But these aren’t our kids.
Karen Gutfreund, Saratoga, CA
Karen Gutfreund is an activist artist incorporating a combination of personal
commentary, political outrage, moral teachings, and social observation in text-based, mixed-media paintings. As a curator, she creates exhibitions with the motto “changing the world through art,” working to stimulate dialogue, raise consciousness and create social change. Actively promoting the work of activist and feminist artists with national touring
exhibitions, she hasproduced over thirty-five to date and is writing a book on DIY Exhibitions. Gutfreund has worked in the Painting & Sculpture Department for MoMA, the Andre Emmerick Gallery, The Knoll Group, the John Berggruen Gallery, the Pacific Art League and the Curtis Charitable Trust. With degrees in Fine Arts and Art History from the University of Georgia and MA (pending) from NYU, she is also a consultant for private and corporate collections. Gutfreund is currently the Exhibition Chair for NCWCA and is a member of ArtTable, TFAP and on the boards of numerous art organizations. Born in Lexington, Kentucky, but having lived in all four corners of the country, she currently lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sally Edelstein Responds
The browning of America is making white nationalists turn pale as a ghost with fright. For others, Trump’s draconian measures regarding immigration and the “illegal invaders” are making us see Red with rage.
I want to scream.
Hearing the plaintive crying of these children makes me want to scream.
Hearing the lies perpetrated by Trump and his heartless enablers on an hourly basis makes me want to howl.
Feeling helpless at the sight of youngsters languishing in cages makes me want to cry out.
What are we doing to these immigrant children cruelly taken from their parents who are seeking asylum?
Would we do this to fair-faced, blonde tots, and their parents?
The screaming will die down in time but the impact of this unspeakable trauma will be long-lasting.
If someone thinks the tender 2 year old will be too young to remember this trauma they are mistaken.
The 3 year old terrified, cries for his papi will never forget
The 6 year old with night terrors and no one to comfort and hold her will never forget
The 8 year old feeling forsaken, desolate and confused will never forget
The panic-stricken 7 year old looking for his mother will never forget
These children will never forget
And neither shall we.
We must never forget we are Americans and have zero tolerance for this policy.
Now is the time for all of us to scream.
Now is the time for all of us to see Red.
Sally Edelstein, South Huntington, NY
Sally Edelstein is an award-winning collage artist and writer whose work has focused on examining social fiction, deconstructing the cultural clutter of mid-century America through the lens of feminism and social justice. Her blog Envisioning the American Dream is a series of social commentaries that serves up mid-century culture with a twist of today as assumptions are shaken and stirred. Nationally exhibited, Edelstein’s colorful, densely rich collages are a smorgasbord of pop culture stereotypes from mid-century America that were offered by an often fragmented media consumed with clichés and fictions. Her collages are composed of hundreds of appropriated images from sources as varied as vintage advertising, schoolbooks, illustrations, and each piece is painstakingly done by hand. Her upcoming book Defrosting the Cold War: Fallout From My Nuclear Family is a memoir of how she learned to navigate the tangled, doublespeak, duck and cover, cold war culture of her mid-century suburban childhood. Layering memory, nostalgia, humor, and history, her work is a cultural snapshot of a time and place but like a posed Kodacolor print, it is not as it appears.