Movements like “Time’s Up” and “Me Too” are sweeping the globe, women’s marches are popping up all over the nation and now more than ever, women are building each other up and banding together to give one another strength and empowerment.
Not only are national, celebrity-backed events like donning white roses at The Grammys or dressing in all black at the Golden Globes to protest the mistreatment of women and showcase girl power driving these movements, but local events are generating buzz too.
One such event is the Women’s History Month “She/They/Us” exhibition at the Riverside Arts Center gallery. Its goal is to explore the depth of the solidarity of womanhood, as well as the messages women carry from the community.
“It’s important because women have been marginalized throughout history and the art world is part of that,” says program manager, Trevor Stone. “This is a chance to give brilliant, talented people center stage so we can learn from them and they can share their stories. We can learn from their triumphs and challenges.”
The exhibition features all types of art – paintings of a variety of mediums, photographs, sculptures, even live art – and it serves to showcase the struggles women have been through and to empower others with its honesty.
Portrait paintings of women by artist Sophie Grillet are included in the show.
“They are all imaginary portraits of women, somewhat sad and inward-looking,” Grillet says. “One of a middle-eastern looking woman is titled, ‘Invisible Woman.’ Without even being fully aware of it, they demonstrate the powerful social headwinds against women being strong, confident and optimistic agents of their own destiny.”
Artist Nora Venturelli features a painting titled “ViceVersa” that is part of a larger series. This painting was also accepted into an exhibition in New York City for “Women Painting Women.”
“It consists of layers of the figure in movement,” she says. “It can mean many things to whomever sees it. I think of it as the multi-layered personalities we have or the life of multi-tasks that we go through. This model is a dancer. She shows us we dance through life and we come out triumphantly. She’s very powerful.”
Stone says the gallery committee asked themselves, “What do women need?” and then designed the exhibition around their discussion.
Grillet believes there’s never been a more exciting time to showcase this work.
“Since the level of harassment, discrimination and general misogyny has become so blindingly obvious – from trolling to rape, along with the crowning insult of the recent presidential election – women everywhere are supporting one another to stop pussyfooting and start demanding respect,” Grillet says.
The hope is that the “She/They/Us” exhibition at the gallery will serve to inspire change, at least locally.
“People are using this as a social space to brainstorm the challenges of life around the identity of being a woman and trying to move themselves forward,” Stone says.
While much of the exhibit features the challenges and suffering women experience, with movements for change at the forefront of society, hopefully next year the message will be a little bit different.
“I hope that next year the show will be less about hurt and more an expression of upcoming achievements and great leaps in solidarity,” Grillet says.
Regardless of gender, if you want to be inspired, empowered and moved, check out “She/They/Us.”
The gallery at the Riverside Arts Center is open: Thursdays 3-8 p.m., Fridays 3-10 p.m. and Saturdays 3-8 p.m. and is located at 76 N. Huron St. in Ypsilanti. This exhibition will run through Saturday, March 31. Admission is free.