- Annual Conference
- Awards and Prizes
Seeing Beyond: Arts@NWSA 2019
by Curator Rosamond S. King
The National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) welcomes both professional scholars and those whose research is direct action, and whose expertise comes from practical experience. I’m sure many of you, conference participants and attendees, consider yourselves both artists and activists. As an extension of its work and values, the NWSA is committing to including the arts in its annual conference in a thoughtful, intentional way – and I was excited to be chosen as the second curator of Arts@NWSA.
The arts are always vital, important, and necessary – and artwork of all kinds fits the 2019 NWSA theme “Protest, Justice, and Transnational Organizing” perfectly: art can be protest, and it can depict that which we protest against. Art is a fundamental aspect of justice, since it is a key example of the freedom to think and imagine independently. And like scholars and activists, artists and curators can pursue the difficult, messy, but worthwhile strategy of transnational communication and organizing. Along with the overall theme, my goal for Arts@NWSA 2019 has been Seeing Beyond - beyond borders, beyond artistic medium, beyond the obvious.
When those of us based in the USA think about borders and the transnational, we usually have countries outside of USAmerica in mind. But if we recognize the sovereignty of Indigenous nations, then transnational includes the Cherokee nation, as well as Mexico, Suriname, and South Africa – all of which are represented in our exhibit. Transnational also means acknowledging that the land considered the USA was stolen from Native peoples – our NWSA conference will take place on Ohlone land, also known as San Francisco.
In addition to their ethnic, national, and other identities, the selected artists identify as lesbian, trans, and straight, are of different ages, and have different relationships to the professional art world. Some artists living outside of the USA worked around regular power outages to communicate, and a Bahamian sent her work just before Hurricane Dorian hit. Another woman sent her work from an artist residency. The chosen art, as well as the curatorial process of Arts@NWSA touched on many of the same topics that will be discussed at the conference. Seeing and working across borders is often challenging, but it remains necessary and benefits us all.
Just as so many years ago Emma Goldman didn’t want a revolution if she couldn’t dance, I don’t want to live in – or to present – a world in which abstract images, or images that do not include humans, are disallowed. So including work that both is and is not representative was important. The photography, performance, painting, drawing, installation, and conceptual art included in Arts@NWSA reflects much of the range of women’s experiences, but in many different ways. Titles such as “One in Five of Us,” “Most Reluctant Housekeeper,” “I am (not),” and “Armor” hint at what you will see.
The performers included were chosen with the same intentions. Both the Sarah Bush Dance Project (SBDP) and DJ Emancipation are well-known in the Bay area. Spirit & Bones (SPDP) is not only multigenerational and multiracial, it also focuses on women’s friendship while gesturing towards an existence that transcends physical life.
Drawing from her Egyptian heritage and everywhere else, DJ Emancipation will welcome conference participants with house, reggae, soul, ancestral music, and “whatever it takes to get the crowd open.” Yes – you are welcome to dance! And our collaboration with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which we encourage you to visit while in San Francisco, resulted in the slide show of work related to Bay Area activism that will be projected during the President’s address.
Please look up these incredible artists, promote their work, and buy it if you can!
In the space of two weeks earlier this year, we lost Professor Gloria Joseph and authors Paule Marshall and Toni Morrison. These women’s work focused on women, but they also wrote about their communities, whether or not those communities embraced them. Their writing remains with us because they did their work in a world that did not always encourage them. We should all be inspired by their example.
Enjoy the visual art and performances here at NWSA, and let them challenge you to think beyond your own experiences, and through and beyond our immediate challenges.
– Rosamond S. King, Poet, Performer, Scholar, & Curator, Arts@NWSA 2019
Thursday Welcome Reception Performance
DJ Emancipation has been making people dance in the Bay Area dance scene for over 20 years. Currently Emancipation designs the sounds at her monthly spring-summertime outdoor jump, SOULOVELY, founded by the first all lady DJ crew based in Oakland, CA, a testament to the beauty of Oakland’s diversity.
Friday Keynote Interlude Performance
Sarah Bush Dance Project Spirit & Bones (excerpts)
Sarah Bush Dance Project’s Spirit & Bones premiered in 2018 with a live band and an intergenerational cast of 15 dancers ranging in age from 23 to 71. This evening-length production highlights female resilience in times of darkness, the tenacity of the solo woman, and the ferocious love and strength generated by community.
Visual Artists in Arts@NWSA 2019
with their countries of birth or heritage and (if different), country of residence, in alphabetical order.