Andrea Bowers - Letters to an Army of Three - video still - 2005 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - On March 29, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) opens a daring new exhibition titled The Way That We Rhyme: Women, Art & Politics  which showcases the politically charged work of a new generation of women who use creativity as a form of empowerment or a means for making social change. Curated by Berin Golonu, YBCA’s associate visual arts curator, The Way That We Rhyme  features twenty artists and artist groups who unapologetically assert themselves and address a range of issues from the personal to the global. While the works are influenced by the feminist ideologies and activist movements of the past, they also speak loudly and clearly to the issues facing women right now.

The Way That We Rhyme  includes painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation, music and live performance from a selection of local, national and international artists and artist groups. The show emphasizes the collective and collaborative process as a way to empower individuals in a group, performative acts as a form of resistance, and how issues of representation pertain to gender politics and queer politics. An opening night party is scheduled for Friday, March 28 from 8-11 pm.  A full day of events, titled The Way That We Rhyme in Motion, including gallery tours, panel discussions, film screenings, workshops and interactive performances is scheduled for the opening day on Saturday, March 29.

“The Way That We Rhyme  showcases contemporary work with a political conscience, and is organized around artistic strategies utilized by women artists to meet political aims and bridge art with life.” says YBCA’s Associate Visual Arts Curator Berin Golonu. “These strategies are linked in the past and carry forward into the present, offering an amazing range of diversity in the work, both aesthetically and in terms of subject matter.”

Aleksandra Mir, First Woman on the Moon, video documentary - 1999The Way That We Rhyme is part of YBCA’s Identity Shifts series, one of the three Big Ideas that guide this season’s programming. The Identity Shifts series features artists who explore the ideas of race, gender, nationality. Once concrete identifiers, these terms are now, to some degree, open to interpretation. The rise of religious extremism, the conflict between cultural identity and national borders, the rejection by many of traditional gender roles and labels, has plunged the world into a clash between embracing strict boundaries or celebrating fluidity and complexity. By disrupting the status quo and exploring deeply their sense of self, the artists in this series ask us to rethink how we know who we are, and what we think we can be.

Collective and Collaborative Practices

A central focus of the exhibition is the way women artists use collective or collaborative practices to amplify their voices, generate dialog and distribute messages out into the world. Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz showcase “Restricted Access,” an archive containing ephemera of feminist artistic practice from the 1970s to the present. Lacy and Labowitz invited a younger generation of women artists, critics and curators to look through their archive to talk about how the information conveyed in these documents are familiar to or contrast with their experiences as women and artists in contemporary society. The responses of the younger women, captured in video interviews, are on display along with the archive itself.

Appropriation as a Form of Resistance

Many of the artists in The Way That We Rhyme  practice forms of appropriation and intervention to push their political agendas forward in a guerrilla fashion. Deborah Grant’s work appropriates the images of famous male artists from the canon and reworks these images to have them address histories that the artist can identity with. Grant’s “A Gin’s Cure,” an anagram for the title of Picasso’s famous painting Guernica, combines Picasso’s compositional elements with ephemera referencing her African American heritage and culture.

A full list of artists exhibiting work in The Way That We Rhyme: Women, Art & Politics  includes: Lisa Anne Auerbach, Andrea Bowers, Nao Bustamante, Tammy Rae Carland, Vaginal Davis, Eve Fowler with Math Bass, Deborah Grant, MK Guth, Taraneh Hemami, Miranda July with Shauna McGarry, LTTR, Leslie Labowitz with Suzanne Lacy, Aleksandra Mir, Laurel Nakadate, Shinique Smith, subRosa, SWOON with Tennessee Jane Watson, Stephanie Syjuco, The Toxic Titties and Jessica Tully.  

ABOUT YBCA

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is the Bay Area’s premier venue for contemporary visual art, performance and film/video. Located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, YBCA celebrates our area’s cultural diversity with dynamic arts programs presented in world-class venues. Overlapping contemporary art exhibitions are scheduled year-round in our galleries and evening film/video screenings are programmed throughout the year in our Screening Room.  Public Programs explore YBCA’s exciting range of exhibitions, performances and film/video programs.  For tickets and information, call 415.978.ARTS (2787) or visit : www.ybca.org

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Michelangelo on Working Hard

"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all."