Women artists talk politics

The Bay Area’s legacy of activism, particularly politically-charged work by female artists, comes to the forefront in “The Way That We Rhyme: Women, Art & Politics.”

The exhibition — which hosts a party Friday night, opens Saturday and runs through June 29 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts — takes a look at activism, feminist ideologies and personal and global issues facing women today.

Works by 20 artists and art collectives ranging from painting and sculpture to photography and live performance make up the show, which is divided into three areas of focus: collective collaborative practices; performance of gender and identity; and appropriation as a form of resistance.

“The show is risk-taking; it’s pretty courageous,” says Berin Golonu, the associate visual arts curator at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. “It’s got a lot of breadth to it, if you will, and I think that a lot of the women artists in the show are making political work in response to the rising political divide in the world. I think that’s why it’s important to stage something like this now.”

The core focus of the exhibition is the exploration of how women artists collaborate to strengthen their voices and distribute their artistic message.

It’s exemplified by Miranda July’s video chain letter project, “Joanie 4 Jackie.” The piece was created to encourage women filmmakers to share their work and promote one another; a compilation of the short films will be showcased.

The theme of gender and identity is explored through different works that include a bedroom installation from drag performance artist and experimental filmmaker Vaginal Davis, and a performance and video installation from Nao Bustamante.

The notion of how women practice appropriation as a form of resistance comes to light in “The Counterfeit Crochet Project.”

Created by San Francisco-based visual artist Stephanie Syjuco, the ongoing global project invites craftswomen to crochet their own designer handbags using online instructions. From Fendi to Prada, Syjuco has single-handedly inspired a do-it-yourself designer handbag revolution; during the exhibit’s run, she’ll conduct workshops to teach attendees how to construct their own counterfeit designer wares.

“‘The Way That We Rhyme’ is one of the many different shows that features women artists dealing with legacies of activism right now,” Golonu says. “It’s really part of this whole zeitgeist, this cultural movement of women really being vocal about their messages and the content of their work and putting it out there.”

IF YOU GO

The Way That We Rhyme: Women, Art & Politics

Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., San Francisco

When: Opening night party at 8 p.m. March 28; show runs March 29 through June 29

Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday-Sunday and noon to 8 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $5 to $7 for show; $15 at door for party

Contact: (415) 978-2787 or www.ybca.org

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