Pro Arts Gallery will be the exclusive San Francisco Bay Area venue for the touring exhibition STILL THEY PERSIST: Protest Art of the 2017 Women’s Marches, on view November 2, 2018, through November 30, 2018. With the aim of keeping the words and images made and deployed by human rights advocates who took to the streets of cities around the country in January, 2017 circulating within the public sphere, FemFour, a group of Cincinnati-based artists and arts advocates, put together a traveling, ever-evolving archive of posters and placards, sculptures, textiles, and photo documentation from the day collected by the arts philanthropist and collector Sara M. Vance Waddell.

On January 21, 2017, triggered by Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States, the Women’s March has marked the largest single-day protest in U.S history. Two weeks before it took place, Waddell posted a message on Facebook asking marchers to save their protest signs. The initial idea was to mount a small exhibition on the wall of her home in Cincinnati, Ohio. However, the response was beyond her expectation. So she assembled fellow activists Marie Seda-Reder, Jaime Thompson and Cal Cullen to help her turn this collection into a traveling exhibition for the public.

This living archive includes more than one hundred and eighty objects that are made with humble materials by artists, craftspeople and amateurs alike; and each new iteration of Still They Persist is curated to center the public policy issues that are currently living in the hearts and minds of the public. The mission is to keep the words and images of progressive activists and allies in the minds and hearts of the public—encouraging ongoing resistance to tyranny in its many forms.

The project also has an emotional dimension for curator Maria Seda-Reeder. By deliberately selecting more than sixty artworks for the Oakland iteration, Seda-Reeder explores the passion, anger, and anxiety that are woven through the marches. Some are witty signs that say “We came from Alabama to remind Y’all about Civil Rights”, “Don’t make me burn my bra again!”. There are also ingenious sculptures, works on paper, T-shirts, pins, photographs and captured audio from the day of the march.

The city of Oakland, where Pro Arts Gallery is located, has always been the battlefield for protests. On the same day of 2017, tens of thousands of people jammed in the streets of downtown Oakland roaring for justice and human rights. For the Oakland iteration of the exhibition, co-curated with artist and curator Asya Abdrahman, Pro Arts Gallery partners with POST11NINE The New Now [NOW] along with local organizations and artists to turn the venue into a safe place for sharing thoughts and expressing ideas.

In times of struggle, art functions as material imaginings of transformed realities writ large on the public world. Art provides the visual and verbal language to understand our role in conflicts, both micro and macro, and invites generative resolutions to present dangers.

POST11NINE’s collaborative installation is a statement of fierce hope that transcends the contrived scarcity of the current world image and moves beyond ugliness and violence towards beautiful abstractions that are reductive, political, complex, and personal.

The installation includes collaborative events that dynamically engage visitors as well as create unique dialogue between participating artists, writers, scientists, politicians, and organizations in order to actively nurture viable change.

POST11NINE The New Now [Now] offers a chance to move beyond apathy and anger into a place of articulated dreams, elegant metamorphoses, and unconventional power. This collaboration is the result of galvanized voices who refuse to be at rest, and instead offer their art as momentum for a newly emerging present.

About the FemFour

Initially intended to populate a large wall space in her personal home gallery, art collector, philanthropist, perennial board member, and museum docent volunteer Sara M. Vance Waddell began soliciting signs from artists as soon as she knew there would be a Women’s march on Washington. Enlisting the help of independent curator and art critic Maria Seda-Reeder as well as Wave Pool Gallery’s Executive Director and social practice artist Calcagno Cullen, the group then brought on board the Contemporary Arts Center’s Curator of Education, Jaime Thompson to round out their mission: keeping the words and images of progressive activists and allies in the minds and hearts of the public.

Dates and Venues

May 20 – June 24, 2017     Wave Pool Gallery, (Cincinnati, OH)
July 28 – August 13, 2017 Lexington Art League, (Lexington, KY)
October 9 – 22, 2017   Contemporary Arts Center, (Cincinnati, OH)
December 16, 2017 – January 7, 2018 KMAC Museum, (Louisville, KY)
January 22 – March 31, 2018    Salisbury University, (Salisbury, MD)  
November 2 – 30, 2018    Pro Arts, (Oakland, CA)                      


Catalog

Amplifying the voices in this exhibition is a 190+ page color catalogue with detailed images of these objects of resistance, which includes critical essays by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, Micol Hebron, Betti-Sue Hertz, Noel Anderson, and Jenny Ustick; as well as photographic documentation from the day as seen through the eyes of the artists and activists who were on the ground, around the country on January 21st, 2017. Book design by Calcagno Cullen; all proceeds from sales of the book go to Heartfelt Tidbits, a Cincinnati-based non-profit refugee service organization.

The catalog is available for purchase on the night of the reception.

About POST11NINE

POST11NINE The New Now [Now] is a collaboration that gathers disparate voices of artists, activists, thinkers, and philanthropists together into spaces and conversations that move beyond fear of the present to create a new [Now].

Contributors:

Asya Abdrahman, Barbara Staffacher Solomon, Autumn Elizabeth, September Williams, Abdrahman “Manny” Lee, Barakah Aly, Cleveland Dean, Barry McGee, Adam Werbach, Rebecca Solnit, Tiffany Shlain, Paul Miller (DJ Spooky), Dave Eggers, Matt Gonzalez, Natasha Boas, Libby Black, Sadie Woods, Michele Pred, Nellie King Solomon, Alena Museum, Jamila Ekukpe, Wesaam Al-Badry, Heather Wilcoxson, Liz Walsh, Jeanette Alanis, Glenn Ellis, Michelle Hartney, Nancy Emilce Carvajal Medina, Sun Villagers, Compagnie Puls’Art, Carl Heywood

About Asya Abdrahman

Asya Abdrahman is an Oakland and San Francisco based artist/curator, place-maker and installation artist who considers the intersection of cultural identity, human rights and the environment in her work. Of Somali, Eritrean, and Ethiopian heritages, she fled her East African homeland during a time of regional wars. Abdrahman’s work promotes cultural and ecological survival, advanced through her use of human, natural, found, and recycled resources.

In addition to exhibiting her art, Abdrahman is the founder of Sun Village Artisan Corner, POST11NINE, Pay It Forward (PIF) Gallery and SF Coffee Cruiser. She also produces and curates exhibitions at Pro Arts Gallery. Her work was featured at Museum of African Diaspora. She is currently a Village Artist resident at the Asian Arts Museum where she activates public space in San Francisco as a founding member for FAABI Life Art Group.

Public Program

Opening Reception & Curators Talk: Friday, Nov 2, 6 – 9 PM, Talk at 7 PM

Artist Panel Discussion: Friday, Nov 9, 7 PM, Conversations That Move Beyond Fear with various artists.

PRESS

At FotoFocus, the Radical Notion That Women Are People, Aperture (Oct. 26, 2017) 

Taking it to the gallery: Signs of Women’s March go on exhibit, Lexington Herald Leader (July 27, 2017)

This exhibition is made possible by the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the Fleishhacker Foundation, and the City of Oakland, Cultural Funding Program.