By the time I arrived at Knockdown Center on Saturday night for day two of Nasty Women– the four-day, all-women exhibition and giant middle finger directed at Trump–the place had been all but cleaned out. All anyone could talk about was the “epic” turnout for opening night– even the shuttle bus driver sounded beat when he told me how he helped move “thousands” of people back and forth between Knockdown and the Jefferson stop.
Carolina Wheat, one of the organizers, told us that of the more than 1,000 submissions received, 622 works made it through the doors. (A few were lost in the mail on their way in from far flung places across the country and all over the world.) Knockdown says that the final headcount of attendees was a whopping 4,600. “It was rather dramatic,” Wheat laughed. “It was just a sea of people. When we saw the line, it was like ‘Holy shit, look what we did!'”
They weren’t just window shopping, either– Haley Shaw, an organizer whose focus was art sales, estimated that 90 percent of the artwork was sold on Friday night. “It was not only a call to arms, but a way for nasty women to show [what’s in] their hearts,” she said, explaining buyers’ enthusiasm.
Even if guests weren’t exactly able to make it rain, they could contributed smaller donations by attending the nightly dance parties and performances, and by the time I checked outta there on Saturday night it was bumping.
Certainly, the organizers had their under-$100 “cash and carry” model to thank, and the fact that the show was a benefit for Planned Parenthood couldn’t have hurt either. But something tells us that the theme itself was the real draw. With more than 600 artists came together to reclaim the demeaning term, just showing up may have felt like a way for guests to demonstrate their disapproval of “recent and ongoing threats to women’s rights.”
You probably, definitely remember the epithet “nasty woman” was first lobbed on Hillary Clinton by a certain GOP candidate during one of the presidential debates. But the underlying concept goes back centuries, as is seen in the long-held cross-cultural tradition of depicting powerful women as devil-worshipping witches and hideous monsters (as one english Professor aptly observed, Hillary was often compared to Medusa).
We’d feel safe saying that, as a cultural phenomenon, “nasty woman” is here to stay, which is actually somewhat comforting as we hurdle head-first toward Trump Nation. Even anxiety attack-prone pessimists like you and me will find some reassurance in a show like Nasty Women and the overall response to Trump’s BS. The backlash has been massive and all-inclusive not only because the internet allows for a lightning-face pace of political reaction, but also because of a newfound unity among feminists (not to mention there are just more of us around in the first place). While it’s easy to lament the mainstreaming of once-revolutionary feminism, the fact is that the demand for women’s equality isn’t going anywhere, and it’s just going to get louder under the Trump regime.
Check out more photos from the exhibition down below.
Liza Dubarry‘s small painting, “the essence of man,” invokes a widespread phenomenon known as “man baby.” It’s a vast generalization, to be sure, but much like the popular refrain “kill all men,” we don’t really mean it when we say it. Do we?
Already a polarizing topic, abortion churns up so many politicized arguments and sensationalized portrayals on all sides of the issue (the ultimate act of self-empowerment versus a mortal sin) that many of us are ignorant of the medical procedure itself. Look no further than these mini-sculptures made by Airco Craven. Try not to laugh at the casual pile of tiny fetuses skewered on curettes (a surgical instrument used in some abortion procedures), not unlike shrimp kabobs waiting for the grill. They look to be about 2.5 inches long and semi-human, or the equivalent of week 12, which is final leg in the first trimester when abortions are at their safest.
While Roe v. Wade seemed relatively stationary for a long time, Americans are clearly worried about a woman’s right to an abortion (and therefore control over her own body). As this New York mag piece demonstrates, there’s a distinct possibility that “DIY abortions” could make a comeback under the new administration. Trump certainly has some–well, for lack of a better word– nasty views on abortion.
The issue (for the immediate future anyway) is not so much about some legally-sanctioned ban on abortion, as it is Trump’s promise to defund Planned Parenthood, and widespread Republican support of his plan to repeal Obamacare (which seems to be going forward without a new program to replace it). Just today, the Times said that 18 million people could lose their health insurance, likewise private costs would likely soar. Understandably, anxieties among women are running high regarding not only paying for abortion (which run upwards of $1,000), but their access to healthcare providers that perform the procedure, as well as birth control, which would prevent many women from having to undergo abortion in the first place.
Sandra Kopenen‘s voodoo doll sculpture looks strikingly familiar– that distinctively Jabba-like mush face with an orangey glow, atop a flubby body doing the best it can with a portly stance, and of course that mop of freshly combed over bleach-blond hair. Perhaps we’ll never know who it is, but let’s just hope the voodoo magic kicks in soon.
This portrait by Brandi Twilley embraces the vampire girl in all of us. Sure, you could argue that ponytails and poofy prom dresses are totally within the realm of horse girls (along with white turtlenecks, ballet flats and, oh yeah, horses!). But that means that you’re disregarding this girl’s creepy deluxe smile, which looks like it was perfected only after actual years of watching Carrie over and over again. And if that’s not some vampire girl behavior, I don’t know what is.
This painting from an anonymous contributor blends Barbara Bush (trademark oversized pearls and matching frumpy earrings, dowdy smock in ’50s hospital bed blue), one of the legendary beauties of the GOP, with D. Trump’s instantly recognizable pucker face. Here, his visage takes on a whole new ugliness, as the mouth crinkle edges toward guinea-pig proportions.
I’ve tried figuring this one out by Xie Lanxia since the moment I saw it. “Why I am so awesome 1 and 2” shows a woman fellating what is presumably a man with a bad case of Elephantiasis. I’m not one to make fun of preexisting medical conditions, and I doubt the organizers of Nasty Women are either– so perhaps this is a call for Trump to rethink his repeal of universal healthcare? Either that, or this woman is about to use that plug in the background to do something real nasty.
Housewives of the world unite! An artist who identifies herself as “Lazy Mom” submitted this color photograph titled Eat the Patriarchy, which is as clear as symbol of the oppressive double-duty of domestic work as I’ve ever seen. Fancy terms aside, hot-dog boiling and butt-slapping diaper days might seem as if they pass easier than the daily grind of the businessman (wrong), but really these traditionally female occupations are just plain old exploitative, patriarchal imposed, unpaid labor when you get down to it.
Seriously though, cutting through a pile of wobbly wieners has got to be a strangely soothing sensation for the ol’ palm, and lord knows this lady isn’t new to knife handling. Practice makes perfect.
OK, so this painting by Kelsey Shwetz really made me think of the drama that has unfolded along with our beloved, but ever-evolving emojis. When the peach emoji was updated, it lost its original blurriness and heart shape, and was replaced by a rounder, more moon-shaped peach. The internet backlash was epic, and people everywhere took to social media to demand that the original be brought back. After all, the peach is an especially significant emoji: as a cheeky hieroglyph denoting a voluptuous butt, it is essential for sexting and universally applicable (save, perhaps for twinks).
That story leaves out just one detail: the peach emoji was also frequently used as a vagine. Shwetz reasserts ownership of the peach, and arms it with sharpened nails and a strong hand, so as to ensure that she will never be stolen ever again.