In the spring of 2017, KC Art Pie will launch as an arts podcast for the Kansas City scene with the debut of the season one project, Femin • Is: Portrait of Kansas City Feminism Then and Now
Femin • Is will be an equal part local history project, part contemporary examination, and part visual exhibition. The project will be released as season one of the KC Art Pie podcast, showcasing interviews and oral histories from artists active during the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1970’s in the Kansas City area as well as contemporary creatives working with an evolving definition of feminism. The podcast will debut during Women’s History Month, March 2017, with a culminating exhibition of collaborative portraits to follow in the summer. Fusing emotional, political, and theoretical concerns with the artist’s creative process, this project endeavors to capture personal histories and share contemporary perspectives while engaging with an often charged topic in our culture.
The podcast series will connect with a portrait series, which will be based on text that individuals from the interviews select as something historically or personally significant to them. What does that look like? An example can be found on one of the Power & Light KC Streetcar Stop (up through October 2016).
Yes, it’s all text! You can view more portraiture in this style here. Stay tuned in the coming months for the first interview. Sign up to be on the email list here or add http://www.kcartpie.com to your favorite RSS reader.
Finally, I am happy to share that Femin • Is has received an Inspiration Grant from the ArtsKC Regional Arts Council. This will allow the podcast and this website to get off the groud.
For a taste of things to come, listen to this clip featuring local art historian, curator and writer, Elizabeth Kirsch, on a bit of feminist history in the Kansas City art scene.
I recently met with two freshly minted graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute, Heavenly Ehrhart and Kiki Serna. Their year-long thesis project, which culminated in the BFA exhibition at the H&R Block Artspace, revolved around the behavior of catcalling in the Midtown area.
It quickly became clear how complicated this seemingly minor issue is. The artists encountered repeated and often disturbing experiences of women, themselves included, alongside the dismissal women who hadn’t been subjected to similar situations. Ehrhart and Serna also encountered men who were genuinely unaware and surprised at the behavior, alongside the catcallers themselves, either mistakenly convinced that their comments were compliments, or at worst, aggressively aware of their actions.
Ehrhart and Serna’s thesis project explored methods of engagement with these catcallers and included performance, video, printmaking and public outreach. We spoke at length about their process and reactions to it as well as the systemic cultural origins that propagate such micro-aggressive behaviors. Here is an excerpt on how they got started on this year-long project to call out the catcallers.
Rachelle Gardner-Roe: Tell me a little bit about the components of your project.
Heavenly Ehrhart: We really started to approach this project based on research and a lot of what we were thinking about is, “How can we capture micro-agression, or how can we approach micro-aggression that we experience every day as women walking in spaces that we’re supposed to be comfortable in. So we started walking around.
Kiki Serna: We would walk our daily routes. We don’t have cars, and so we walk everywhere. We initially started with a point and shoot camera.
EH: We had the point and shoot and then we had the video recorder. We were trying to, without approaching them, to capture what they were saying, which is something that we asked a lot of questions about early on. What are things that have been said to you in a public space that you’re supposed to be comfortable in? And a lot of women actually had a hard time pinpointing what was said. But they all knew that they weren’t comfortable with it, they knew it was heckling, they knew it was aggressive. They knew that it was, at points, stalking.
We put a hat on and we hid the Go Pro with a little hole in it and were walking around. Any time a guy approached us, looked at us, we would look at them and try to document them without talking to them. Then we got to a point where we were like, ok, we’ve got all this documentation, how can we take the next step that will further this confrontation?
KS: We’re not doing anything constructive. We’re just capturing them, but we’re not solving anything. So we came up with a dialogue.
EH: Yeah, dialogue and questions. And those questions, I think, were the leading factor of our piece after that. So I think one of the questions we started with was “Are you aware that you are making me feeling uncomfortable,” which ended up being the title of the piece, You Made Me Feel Uncomfortable, and Uncomfortable for the BFA.
RGR Are all of those questions listed on the catcalling blog?
EH: Yeah, Heavenly actually made cards that had the statements on them because we at the time when we started to implement these questions a lot of the guys we were talking to would be really stunned. So she made these business cards. We would hand these out to them. We wanted also to facilitate a safe way or comfortable way for the subject to feel safe and to be able to, confront them in this sense, but also feel safe enough to walk away.
KS: I handset each of these type on a machine and then cut all the paper. I thought it was really important, the time put into these, because we give these out for free. They’re not really going to know what letterpress is and the time put in, but I think it was important for us.
To learn more, including what constitutes as catcalling, as well as images and video of the artists’ performance work, visit the artists’ blog at Confronting Catcalling KC.
ArtsKC Regional Arts Council has announced the latest round of Inspiration Grant recipients and I am honored to say that I am one of the artists selected. This grant will be for a specific project titled,
Femin • Is: Portrait of Kansas City Feminism Then and Now
Femin • Is will be an equal part local history project, part contemporary examination, and part visual exhibition. The Inspiration Grant Funding will enable Rachelle Gardner-Roe to interview artists active during the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1970’s in the Kansas City area as well as contemporary artists working with an evolving definition of feminism. This process will culminate in an exhibition of collaborative portraits, envisioned for Women’s History Month in March of 2017. Fusing emotional, political, and theoretical concerns with the the artist’s creative process, this project endeavors to capture personal histories and share contemporary perspectives while engaging an often charged aspect of our culture.
I am excited to move forward with this project. The opportunity to learn and share these stories is inspiring. I also look forward to developing more text-based portraiture, in a similar vein as the upcoming KC Streetcar installation, I See You.
Additional fundraising will be necessary for this project, so stay tuned for more on that in the coming months. But for now…
Thank you to the
for their continued support of my work and career!
Visit here to see the other Inspiration Grant recipients and their exciting projects!