With a diverse group of women and non-binary artists working in photography, painting, printmaking, collage, textile, and sculpture, Never Done manifests a multiplicity of women’s experiences, views, and modes of expression.
Never Done: 100 Years of Women in Politics and Beyond takes the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment as the occasion for reflection and exploration of the issues and challenges women in the United States have faced, and continue to face, in politics and society.
What has been accomplished in the last 100 years, and what has yet to be accomplished?
The fight for the 19th amendment was achieved through marches, demonstrations, and protest tactics that are still used today. And in the current moment of protest and activism around racism in the United States, Never Done speaks to the role of race and class in shaping women’s participation in politics and the public sphere.
When the 19th amendment—which stated that US citizens could not be denied the right to vote based on their sex—was ratified in 1920, many women were still denied this right. While the federal suffrage amendment prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex, it did not address the intersectional discrimination that many American women faced: women from marginalized communities continued to face obstacles because of their race. Native American, Asian American, Latinx, and African American suffragists had to fight for their own enfranchisement long after the 19th Amendment was ratified.
Never Done is intended to be a celebration, a conversation, a critique, and a commemoration of the journey women have taken and have yet to take. Never Done aims to go beyond politics to create conversations about art, gender, race, and intersectional identities. To do so, this exhibition presents artwork by a diverse group of women: Black, brown, Indigenous, LGBTQ, and differently-abled women and non-binary artists; artists working in photography, painting, printmaking, collage, textile, and sculpture; artists from across the United States and from different generations. Moreover, statements from each artist reflect on their work in relation to women’s rights, feminisms, justice and representation, and the legacy of the suffrage movement. Taken together, this project reveals the myriad of different experiences women have and the multiplicity of views and modes of expression that women employ to communicate what is important to them.
—Rachel Seligman and Minita Sanghvi
Starting September 17, online visitors will experience a variety of content including images of 100 artworks by women and non-binary artists along with statements by each artist that reflect on their work in relation to women’s rights, representation, justice, and the legacy of the suffrage movement. Additional online content will include curatorial writing, student reflections, a list of feminist readings and online resources, and more.
When classes began August 24, students, faculty, and curators will use the gallery as a laboratory, working to discuss and envision the exhibition design for Never Done, which visitors will be able to experience when the Museum reopens to the public. With a diverse group of women and non-binary artists working in photography, painting, printmaking, collage, textile, and sculpture, the exhibition manifests a multiplicity of women’s experiences, views, and modes of expression.
Storme DeLaverie, Chelsea Hotel, NYC 2010 belongs to a collection of portraits I began in August 2000 and later titled Community of Elsewheres. My intention was to create a living archive of a circle of artists (mostly friends) and the spaces that held us together in lower Manhattan at the turn of the twenty-first century. Over time, these pictures have provided a mirror for those who inhabit the margins, and a re-centering of the her-storically queer Other. They are an offering for future generations.
I was introduced to Storme by the painter Michele Zalopany, her longtime friend and neighbor at the Hotel Chelsea. I knew Storme only in a legendary context—as the one who threw the first punch at a police officer at the Stonewall Inn that hot summer night in 1969, and as the iconic butch sitting on a Central Park bench in Diane Arbus’s famous photograph, The Lady who Appears to be a Gentleman.
If a queer lens informs my relationship to representation and intimacy, post-colonial theory calls into question my role as spectator and collector (the focus shifts here). Storme was the embodiment of Black, queer, self-organized, community-centered, artistic, revolutionary politics, and I was on a mission to photographer her.
I returned to the Chelsea the next day and knocked on Storme’s door. We went for burgers and she told me about growing up with her Black mother and white father, who had moved from Louisiana to California to legally marry. Storme talked about running around town with Billie Holiday and the night she was stabbed in the back after a show at the Apollo. Storme was a singer too.
I went back again the next day and Storme opened the door just wide enough for me to see her black eye. The details were muddy. Her short-term memory was failing. It was common knowledge that Storme walked the streets of Greenwich Village at night to keep a watch on young women heading home from the bars. Even at age eighty-three. I bought a raw steak for her eye and went home. On the third day, Storme said let’s do the picture.
When I think about Storme’s legacy I think about the voices that are missing in the story of women’s suffrage. Would Elizabeth Cady Stanton have pushed for equal rights if she hadn’t been inspired by the political leadership of women in the neighboring Iroquois Nation tribes? If the early feminists had risen to the challenge of Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I a Woman speech, would they have allowed themselves to compromise their long-term support for abolition and prioritize the fight for (white) women’s suffrage?
In the summer of 1983, over ten thousand women gathered on a fifty-two-acre farm in Romulus, New York, twelve miles south of Seneca Falls and adjacent to the Seneca Army Depot, the largest nuclear weapons storage and shipment facility in the United States. We were there to protest the deployment of medium range cruise missiles on European soil under the Reagan administration. English women had also set up a peace camp at the gates of Greenham Common Army Base near London, where they were repeatedly arrested for blocking the convoys transporting missiles.
We were disrupting business as usual for the military industrial complex and living differently in community. We began with the assumption that if our goal was to be equal to men, women were not thinking big enough. Rather than seeking a place at the table, we were working to dismantle male-dominant systems of power that choose profit over the planet. We were creating a new world.
What remains to be achieved? Trans rights for one (sixteen trans women of color have been murdered in the United States this year alone), an end to climate change. The environment can’t sustain the patriarchy any longer.
—Alice O’Malley, 2020
Dyke Action Machine! (DAM!), a group formed by artist Carrie Moyer and photographer Sue Schaffner, created art to raise questions and critique heterosexism, homophobia, lesbophobia, and consumerism. This fictional movie poster, Straight to Hell, along with other DAM! materials were part of a large-scale pasting/postering campaign in early-1990s New York City. As their name suggests, Dyke Action Machine! advocates for lesbian-identified folks from a variety of backgrounds and intersections.
“She came out. So the Army kicked her out.” In 1994, President Bill Clinton issued the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which indicated that gay and bisexual military members could continue in the military but only as long as they concealed their identities; any ‘coming out’ would result in their discharge. Lesbians of color, like the trio standing defiantly on the poster, faced higher rates of expulsions than white men as a result of Clinton’s policy. While the poster carries notions of the past from the Clinton and George W. Bush eras, it also reminds us of contemporary struggles in 2020 with President Donald Trump’s ban of transgender individuals from the military.
How do we and the military currently treat queer soldiers and veterans? What are the experiences of queer soldiers today? How much has changed since Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s repeal?
HI 351 “Archival Storytelling” with Professor Jordana Dym
While doing research for this exhibition, we found many rich and valuable digital platforms for organizations, publications, and projects working to amplify feminist voices and promote feminist work. We hope that you will find them to be productive and useful as resources, tools, and inspiration as well.
—Rachel Seligman and Minita Sanghvi
Fierce Pussy formed 1991, is an artist/activist collective advancing a radical queer and feminist position through interventions in public spaces with projects and actions that often take place without outside sponsorship, funding, or authorization.
Black Women Radicals (BWR) is a Black feminist advocacy organization dedicated to uplifting and centering the radical political activism of Black women and gender non-conforming and non-binary people.
The blog Feministing shut down after 15 years of publishing but the site archives are still available with a critical variety of writings on a broad range of intersectional feminist issues.
Bitch Media is a feminist response to pop culture, run by the company that publishes Bitch Magazine.
This site is the archive of Rookie Magazine, a publication by and for teenage girls that gives a feminist alternative to traditional teen magazines.
This organization seeks to address the multi-dimensional ways Asian/American people confront systems of power at the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, disability, migration history, citizenship and immigration status, through community building and public and political education.
With the tag line “Where crunk meets conscious and Feminism meets cool” this blog is a site for discussion among the hip hop generation of feminists of color.
This pioneering feminist artist group maintains anonymity in order to focus on the issues. This site documents their history and ongoing activity.
With a mission to “Engage. Reflect. Act.” the FAC is a platform for art projects informed by feminisms.
Mommy is an interview format artblog created by Susan Silas and Chrysanne Stathaocos, focused on women who have been working for 20 years or more as artists.
This is a new podcast from The Getty on Radical Women hosted by Helen Molesworth.
Access and download issues of HERESIES; A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics, published by the New York-based group the Heresies Collective from 1977–1992.
“WikiProject Women artists” is a WikiProject dedicated to ensuring quality and coverage of women artists and their works in an effort to solve the systemic bias against women artists in Wikipedia.
Art+Feminism is an intersectional feminist non-profit organization that directly addresses the information gap about gender, feminism, and the arts on the internet.