Feminisms {Re}Framed: A Multidisciplinary Celebration of Feminist Lenses

art show coverThis Saturday and Sunday, July 18th and 19th, Gallery24 will be hosting Feminisms {Re}Framed: St. John’s Feminist Art Show.

Located at 71 Casey Street, the newly-operational Gallery24 has already housed multiple events which fulfill their aim to “create a comfortable environment where those who may have previously felt intimidated can find a connection with art they may not have known possible.” The Feminisms {Re}Framed Art Show is an embodiment of this goal, with the inclusive vision of showcasing an array of local artistic talents working with and through feminist lenses; this includes the work of professional as well as non-professional and hobby artists.

With aligning aspirations of breaking down the barriers between hobby artists and gallery spaces, Gallery24 and the Feminisms {Re}Framed founder Zaren Healey-White are a dream team. I had the chance to speak with Zaren about the inner workings of the Feminisms {Re}Framed Art Show as well as some of the things we can look forward to seeing on opening night.

What are some of the ideas and inspirations behind creating this or any feminist-focused art exhibition?

I’m a Master of Gender Studies candidate at Memorial University and a feminist as well as a “hobby” artist, as I like to call it. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil. In March of this year, I had created a piece of art and wished I had a way to share it with others. Getting into formal gallery spaces can be challenging, and many hobby artists, like me, don’t necessarily have the body of work or experience to try to get their own exhibit. It can be hard to get your work out there. I guessed there were probably a lot of other artists in the same position – not necessarily pursuing art full-time, but creating pieces they want to share.

I put out on Facebook in March, “Some cool person(s) I know in St. John’s need to start a feminist art show (that accommodates amateurs / non-professional artists)” and I had a lot of positive response and offers to help. Within an hour or so, I realized I should just do it! I found a team of other people, we started an organizing committee, and we went from there.

What are some of your personal interests and/or motivations as the founder of the exhibition?

I’ve been reading a lot about feminist art and performance for my master’s thesis this year. As a person committed to expanding people’s understanding of feminism, I thought a feminist focused art show was very much needed in St. John’s. It’s an engaging way to introduce people to new ideas. A lot of people still have misunderstandings about feminism and why it matters, and art is an amazing way to communicate, teach, and advance community activism. Art has, historically, been a powerful way for women and other marginalized groups to share their experiences and advocate for change.

Who has helped you to make the exhibition come to fruition? What were their roles?

This has been a huge group effort through an organizing committee. There have been several other volunteers brainstorming and helping to make this happen. Alexandra Fox did our website, graphic design, program, and has worked on marketing and communications with artists and the public. Eilish Mc Brearty and I worked on an initial proposal and gathered examples of art when we were looking for a venue. She’s also assisting with show materials. Alyse Stuart is working on a lot of logistics and aspects of the show itself. I also want to name Heather Rumancik, Tanya Nielson, Alex Noel, and Gina Snooks who were part of the initial visioning meetings and helped, in various ways, to get this going, some of whom will be helping to run the event.

Most of all we have to thank Hillary Winter of Gallery 24 who very generously and enthusiastically gave us the venue for two days. She is extremely supportive of emerging artists.

We are also fortunate to have financial support from SARIS, or the Roderick J. White Foundation for Science and Reason in Society, a relatively new St. John’s based non-profit I’m involved with that advocates evidence-based reasoning in all aspects of public life and supports work on gender equality. They thought this was a worthwhile cause and have helped us make this possible.

Why did you choose to propose an inclusive approach in defining feminist art as well as in the submission process? What do you hope this will achieve?

There are so many ways to engage with art “with and through” feminist lenses and perspectives, and we wanted to showcase diverse perspectives. We also wanted to encourage people to see their approaches to their own work as having feminist significance, even if they hadn’t previously realized it. We came up with “feminisms” plural to indicate the diversity of feminist work. “{Re}Framed” has to do with finding new ways to see and understand the world and art.

Personally, my goal was never only about showcasing work that, in and of itself, has feminist themes or “content.” That was part of it, but I wanted to do a show that was feminist through its vision and organization. To support feminist artists accessing gallery spaces and opportunities is a feminist act, in and of itself. Notice I say “feminist” artists rather than women. While most of our exhibitors identify as women, we decided to be very explicitly inclusive to all gender identities. Everyone should have a stake in feminism, and we wanted to welcome non-binary people and men to share their work, too. That being said, supporting women artists is important to me, due to men’s historical prevalence in fine arts.

Tell us about the response from the St. John’s arts community, as well as the response from hobby, amateur, and non- professional artists. Have you succeeded in breaking down the wall between these artists and gallery spaces?

When we decided to forge ahead with this project, we didn’t know what kind of response to expect. It has been overwhelming! We have accepted something from every single person who proposed a piece. As a result, we have more than 30 artists involved, either individually or in group collaborations. We will be showcasing photos, paintings, drawings, linocuts, sculpture, embroidery, textiles, mixed materials pieces, poems, screenprinted t-shirts, some short films, and a doll installation. Several artists have told me personally how excited they are and how much they’ve been waiting for this kind of opportunity. Many have never formally exhibited before. It’s amazing to discover all the feminist art being imagined and created in this city.

What can we look forward to seeing through the feminist lenses in the exhibition? What are some of the running themes and issues present in the submissions?

There is a lot of diversity among the art, and themes include identity, embodiment, body image, sexuality, physical and mental health, the legacy of traditionally “women’s” work or roles, missing or murdered women, safety from violence and harassment – the list goes on!

Are there other events or projects in the works for Feminisms {Re}Framed?

If all goes well, I plan to try to make this a regular event. It started from the desire to show my own work in a feminist space, and transformed into a commitment to helping other hobby artists share their own. We have a great commitment, and certainly encourage people to contact us about getting involved in the future.

Check out Feminisms {Re}Framed: St. John’s Feminist Art Show at Gallery24 this weekend, and support some inspired emerging artists. You can participate in what hopefully will be the first of many exhibitions of feminisms in all their artful glory – help make this exhibition a reoccurring way to communicate, teach, and help advance community activism!

If you’d like to contact the team behind Feminisms {Re}Framed about getting involved, or are wondering about the exhibition hours, we have the information you need below. Make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to help these surfacing talents share their work in a supportive and inclusive space.

Feminisms {Re}Framed: Feminist Art Show
Facebook Event
E-mail: sjfeministartshow@gmail.com
Web: feminismsreframed.com

Location: Gallery 24
71 Casey Street, St. John’s NL

Exhibition Hours:
Saturday, July 18th, 2015
4:00pm – 9:00pm
Opening Event at 6:00pm

Sunday, July 19th, 2015
12:00pm – 4:00pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: