Guerrilla Girls to discuss monkey business

The Guerilla Girls at the Venice Biennale, 2005.

The Guerilla Girls at the Venice Biennale, 2005.

FLAGSTAFF-The Guerrilla Girls have gained international recognition as feminist activist artists who promote equality in the art world, society and politics. Sponsored by the School of Art, they will bring their multi-media production to Northern Arizona University (NAU) for a free presentation, focusing on issues of diversity, equality and inclusion in honor of Women's History Month at 8 p.m. March 8 at Prochnow Auditorium.

Formed in New York City in 1984, the group is well-known for using guerrilla tactics while wearing gorilla masks to promote women and minorities in the arts. They are well-known for their poster campaigns highlighting the gender and racial imbalance of artists represented in galleries and museums.

Members of the Guerrilla Girls use the names of dead women artists to reinforce the artists' presence in history.

"We found out that the most influential galleries and museums exhibited almost no women artists. When we showed the figures around, some said it was an issue of quality, not prejudice. Others admitted there was discrimination, but considered the situation hopeless," said Frida Kahlo of the Guerrilla Girls. "Everyone in positions of power-- curators, critics, collectors, the artists themselves passed the buck. We decided to embarrass each group by showing their records in public."

In 1989, to emphasize the fact that less than five percent of the artists in the Metropolitan Museum of Art were female, but 85 percent of the nudes were female, the Guerrilla Girls published a poster reproduced throughout New York City. The poster read "Do women have to be naked to get into the [Metro] Museum?"

"Those were the first posters we put up in the streets of SoHo in New York," said Kahlo.

The Guerilla Girls have also addressed larger societal issues including violence against women, racial inequality, war, reproductive choice, and governmental policies.

"Having the Guerrilla Girls on campus will bring a focus to the NAU mission of promoting a campus environment of global civility and respect," said Pam Stephens, associate professor in the School of Art and co-chair of the event. "The event will offer students, faculty, and the Flagstaff community opportunities to think a little deeper about ideas of inclusion and equality."

"The Guerrilla Girls have traveled the world inspiring understanding, equality, tolerance and social awareness through wit, humor [and] irreverence," said Helaine McLain, associate professor in the School of Art and co-chair of the event with Stephens. "It's so exciting that they will be in Flagstaff!"

Their presentation is open to the public. Admission is free, but seating is limited. Tickets are available at NAU Central Ticket office, (928) 523-5661 or (888) 520-7214.

"Your Social Conscience," an exhibition of selected works from the Guerrilla Girls' portfolio will be on display in Beasley Art Gallery March 5-9. A reception with the Guerrilla Girls in attendance will be held from 7-9 p.m. March 9 in Beasley Art Gallery. The exhibit will run March 6-April 6.

This event is presented by NAU's School of Art and co-sponsored by the Student Activities Council, Art History, Office of the Provost, Office of the President, the College of Arts and Letters, Associated Students for Women's Issues, Women's Studies, Art Education, Commission on the Status of Women, Crystal Productions, McGraw Hill Publishers, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Art Education Club, Wings Telecom, Dept. of Humanities, Arts, and Religion, Binney & Smith, and Arizona Committee for the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

For more information about the Guerrilla Girls, please visit GuerrillaGirls.com. For more information about the event, visit home.nau.edu/art/guerrillagirls.asp.

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