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Embracing & Reclaiming Themselves Through Art
By The Editors
It's 2019 and a Texas official recently called Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a "bimbo." Surprised? We wish we were. But this isn't exactly the friendliest political climate for women, particularly women of color. That's why we're excited about LISTEN: Artists Respond to Politics, an exhibit hitting BronxArtSpace in the Bronx's Mott Haven neighborhood. (Not part of A.O.C.'s district, but we're still here for the #AOC hype.) LISTEN features the work of 13 women and gender non-conforming artists, including Seyi Adebanjo, Lizzy Alejandro, Pamela Cortez, Quail Bell Magazine founder Christine Sloan Stoddard, and others—and just in time for National Women's Month, with the bulk of the show taking place in March. LISTEN runs Feb. 27-April 6, and there's a flurry of related workshops and other special events to bring you back more than once.
Curator Deborah Yasinsky was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about the exhibit in advance of the busy installation process:
How would you describe the themes and content of LISTEN in a sentence?
LISTEN: Artists Respond to Politics focuses on artists' work that responds to our current political times and the #MeToo movement. Artists address an array of themes, including social, political, and gender constructs.
How long has the idea for this show been percolating in your mind?
I have been interested in these issues for many years. While studying Childhood Museum Education at Bank Street College of Education, and later as a parent and an educator, I was struck by the severity and prevalence of binary gender inculcation that exists for children. In the past year and a half, I have been working to translate those ideas into an exhibition.
As a Bronx artist and Lehman College MFA candidate, have you noticed your peers responding to this current political climate in the U.S.?
Yes, and this was part of my inspiration for the exhibit. I noticed issues in artists' work that related to the #MeToo movement, representations of women, and the experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people.
What specific political figures or incidents have appeared most influential in the work you've curated for LISTEN?
The general tone, language, and many policies of the current administration touch on all the issues in the show. I think that the publicity around the use of the phrase “Grab them by the pussy” was a real moment in time for many. I notice in many artists' work, including my own, an embracing of the vagina and breasts as subject matter as an act of reclamation.
Was there an open call for LISTEN or was all the work solicited?
I selected work by artists I was already aware of and through research of contemporary Bronx artists. There was not an open call. I kept in mind the core ideas I wanted to explore in the exhibition.
How is the reality of the show shaping up differently than your original vision? And how have you adjusted to any changes?
The show is closely aligned to my original vision. Some artists were added to the show to enhance the themes and address related issues as well. I could not have imagined the political changes that have occurred in the last year and a half, since I began working on the show.
Could you highlight three works in LISTEN?
Overall, what do you hope visitors will notice, feel, and think about when they see the show and even afterwards?
I hope that visitors will see and be educated on political issues they may not be aware of through the artist’s work. I hope they feel that they are able to contribute their own thoughts and feelings in the provided visitor feedback experience about political issues that are important to them.
Learn more about the exhibit, from the opening reception to the curatorial tour and other events here.