In the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, women have had a lot to say—and for once, they are not afraid to say it. From the 2017 Women’s Marches to the #MeToo movement, and spanning each feminist battle in-between, feminism has been a formative force in the resistance to Trump’s regressive agenda. In a twist of irony, the Trump administration’s blatant attacks on women have only inspired women to speak up and out—and use their voices and stories to demand change.
Feminist artists are resisting, too—not just with their words, but with their work. In Trump’s first year as president, they built monuments to women’s activism, pushed back on his policies and, sometimes, shredded his tweets. Now, an exhibition at San Francisco’s state art space exhumes their pieces and calls on viewers to fight back.
“Object Action: The “F” Word in a Post Truth Era,” organized by Amy Kisch, Founder + CEO of AKArt and Collect for Change™; Danielle Smith and Kimberly Verde, Founders of state and Principals of FRAMEWORK; and Heather Zises, Founder of (READ)art and editor of 50 Contemporary Women Artists (forthcoming in 2018); features a variety of art works made as a feminist response to the Trump administration.
Some pieces are objects. Others were simply made as objections. All were made by women artists. At various times, viewers could also partake in shred-ins, sew-ins and a march with performance artists; on the way out, they’re invited to peruse zines, jewelry and other objects made by creators for social good.
The exhibit also marks the launch of Collect for Change™, a new initiative wherein artists donate a proceeds of their sales to a charity of their choice. Of the inaugural crowd of feminists at “Object,” Ana Teresa Fernández selected Girls Garage; Chitra Ganesh selected The Center for Popular Democracy’s Puerto Rico Rebuilding Fund; Michelle Hartney is sharing her proceeds with Planned Parenthood; Angela Hennessy is pledging for Girls Inc.; Nadja Verena Marcin is giving to 350.org; Sanaz Mazinani is supporting Art & Abolition and Michele Pred is donating to NARAL Pro-Choice California.
We spoke with Kisch, the founder and CEO of AKArt and Collect for Change™, about “Object Action” and what’s next.
Was this exhibition specifically curated as an inauguration for Collect for Change™?
Yes! “Object Action” was specifically curated as the inaugural exhibition for Collect For Change™, which offers a socially-responsible means of collecting stemmed from frustrations I experienced over two decades working with collectors and artists—in galleries, auction houses, museums, art fairs, non-profits—in order to cultivate the artist-collector connection and provide new and seasoned collectors the opportunity to develop a deeper comprehension of the artist’s creative and world visions.
I also had left the art world for several years and worked as a clinical and community social worker, so many of the projects I’ve historically taken on are underscored by efforts to democratize access within the art world, while upholding integrity and quality in curatorial vision and programming. As many of my friends and family members joke: You can take the girl out of social work, but you can’t take the social work out of the girl!
My perspective has been, that ideally collectors who have expendable income for art, might also be interested in putting resources into the civic and organizational entities working to enact the change itself. We were thrilled when the artists selected the organizations they wanted to bring focus and support to through the exhibition both as a way of learning about their personal affiliations, and in some cases, being introduced to the organizations for the first time.
Did you and the other curators choose the artists for the exhibition or was there a selection process?
My co-curators and I selected the seven main artists featured in the show—Ana Teresa Fernández, Chitra Ganesh, Michelle Hartney, Angela Hennessy, Nadja Verena Marcin, Sanaz Mazinani and Michele Pred—based on our knowledge of their work and their ongoing commitment to socially-engaged artwork. We also chose the artists, designers, authors and activists in the Pop-Up shop—Sadie Barnette, Deborah Castillo, Serena Cole, Kelly Inouye, Katrina Majkut, Lisette Morales, Piyali Banerjie’s The Sacred Labyrinth, Diana Kane’s Feminist Gold, The Nouveau Classical Project, Allie Pohl’s Ideal Woman jewelry, Torz Dallison and Aliza Edelman, Vanessa Grigoriadis and Beth Pickens—with the exception of a curatorial selection by Aimee Rubensteen [Rojas and Rubensteen Projects] of works by Phoebe Rose Gittelson, Meirav Ong and Monica Uszerowicz.
Who came up with the concept for the show?
Five years ago, prior to moving from New York to California, and having a now two-and-a-half-year-old, I had initially conceived of Collect For Change™ as primarily an online platform—but as the one-year anniversary of the Toddler-in-Chief’s administration was approaching, I felt an urgency to doing something now and contribute in some way to the already significant momentum and energy of the #MeToo movement and associated efforts to reform patriarchal society. I was having breakfast with Danielle and we were commiserating about the need to take action and catalyze the creative and local community. I shared my shelved plan, wondering aloud whether I should stop waiting for the perfect online platform and digital partner and just launch with a brick-and-mortar exhibition. She not only encouraged me to do so, but offered her and Kimberly Verde’s gallery space to do so.
What is next for Collect for Change™ after this?
Ideally, Collect For Change™ will find a digital partner with whom to fully develop the online platform, which will include portals to purchase artwork directly online, while donating to, learning about and becoming involved in specific organizations and charities, as well as other wings of Collect For Change™—such as Patrons For Change, a curated selection of artwork and projects to commission and support, made available to private, public and corporate sponsors, and Consign For Change, in which collectors will be able to sell works from their collections with a portion of sales going to benefiting organizations. We will continue the brick-and-mortar exhibitions, as well as fully develop our Ambassador program, which invites collectors, dealers, gallerists, organizations and institutions to become further involved by hosting events, exhibitions, tastings and presentations of charities at locations in key cities worldwide. We also have plans for an artwork rental and acquisition program for movie and television use of artworks, with portions of fees going towards charitable organizations.
Future Collect For Change™ art exhibitions and projects will present work, artists and curators focusing on race, gun control, education, the environment, homelessness, LGBTQ issues, refugee crises, immigration and contemporary democracy, among myriad others.
“Object Action” runs through February 16th. A closing reception February 8th will include a panel discussion with Angela Hennessy, Michele Pred, and Piyali Banerjie on the role of the arts in activism and its history in San Francisco.