As gender rights are rolled back across the country and as the Supreme Court signals its willingness to forgo precedent, a new generation of activists is stepping up to the fight. Art as a form of expression has a unique way of motivating people.Kati Hornung, executive director of VoteEquality
Artists 4 ERA, a project by Vote Equality launching this year on International Women’s Day, is not just another art exhibit in celebration of Women’s History Month. The collection of limited edition signed prints—the proceeds of which will support grassroots Equal Rights Amendment efforts—represents the political power of visual art as an influencer. Unlike Renaissance paintings that presented women for their beauty and sexuality, these prints speak loud and clear a marching chant, the potential 28th Amendment currently awaiting certification and publication:
“The equality of rights under the law to not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
This collection of works by 28 print artists does not portray women in their expected roles that have dominated art history for centuries—queens and mothers, goddesses or saints, workers and whores. Nor does it focus on works only by women artists who have succeeded in the male-dominated world of art.
The idea of museum exhibits emphasizing women’s place in the art world has long been due. But Artists 4 ERA’s particular mission calls for a long overdue change in law—one that guarantees equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex and ends the legal distinctions between men and women when it comes to matters like divorce, property, employment and healthcare.
Artist and activist Shepard Fairey, one of the 28 Artists 4 ERA, is well-known for iconic works like his viral depiction of Barack Obama’s in the “Hope” poster and his original Women’s March collection. His art sends a clear message, matched by his words.
“I grew up at a time when women’s rights were on the rise and it was accepted that the ERA was destined to pass. With 38 states having ratified the ERA, it is time for our leaders to step up and enact the will of the people by ensuring that the ERA is adopted. It is overdue that gender equality becomes the law of the land,” said Fairey. “This project resonated with me because the fight for gender equality has always been rooted in social-justice activism and there is still work to be done.”
Fairey will release 600 limited edition, signed prints through OBEY on March 15. (The prints will be available exclusively through Fairey’s website and will be displayed alongside numerous accomplished artists in the touring collection.)
Together the artists in the exhibit show in printed works the essence of equality that women are entitled to under the law, but has yet to pass as a United States constitutional amendment.
Some of the highlights of the exhibit include:
- Chuck Sperry’s “Flower of Democracy–Equal Rights” print—sure to be a hit.
- With the eyes of the millennial generation, Hannah Rothstein equates the delay in the ERA ratification with a Missing poster.
- Nicole LaRue, who designed the Women’s March logo, provides a wakeup call in “Welcome to the Revolution” by quoting civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer’s famous words: “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
- Hands of old and young cross each other in Erin Yoshi’s “Give Our Daughters the Rights Our Grandmothers Deserved.”
- Amir Khadar’s “Pass the E.R.A.” places women set against a map of the United States.
While Artists 4 ERA presents a variety of artistic expressions, the message is one from all: Pass the ERA!
Want to Know More?
The full collection of artwork—which can be viewed online—will make its in-person debut at a launch event on March 19, in Oakland, Calif., at Oakstop’s Broadway Gallery. (Purchase tickets for the Oakland through the Artists 4 ERA website or directly through Eventbrite.)
From there, the collection will tour the country at events organized by VoteEquality, partner organizations and artists advocating for gender equality. The tour will promote the urgency of publishing the ERA—after all, anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ laws like those coming out of Texas and Florida would not be possible if gender equality was in the U.S. Constitution.
Well-known artist, Chuck Sperry, recently released 250 of his ERA inspired prints to his followers. Sperry has reserved an additional 50 prints to be sold at the kick-off event in Oakland.
Proceeds from the sale of limited Artists 4 ERA edition prints and artwork will be doubled by a generous match from the Esler Family Foundation.
Artists included in the Artists 4 ERA collection include: Amanda Lynn, Amir Khadar, Chuck Sperry, Claw Money, Dave Young Kim, Deedee Cheriel, Erin Yoshi, Ferris Plock, Forest Stearns, Gabe Gault, Gilda Posada, Hannah Rothstein, Jennifer White-Johnson, Jodie Herrera, Kate Deciccio, Katty Huertas, Kelly Tunstall, Lee Queza, Miles Toland, Natalie White, Nicole LaRue, Peregrine Honig, Shannon Taylor, Shepard Fairey, Sophia Pineda, Steve Lambert, Tara McPherson, Tracie Ching and Tracey Murrell.