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Gorilla Guerrilla Girl attends Wilson College Arts Day

Member of arts organization points out lack of representation for women and minorities in arts

Member of arts organization points out lack of representation for women and minorities in arts

April 03, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- One might think the arts would be one of the most progressive segments of society in terms of the advancement of women and minorities, but the walls of many major galleries are dominated by the works of white men, as are the halls of power in Hollywood, according to a woman wearing a gorilla mask.

Who was that mysterious masked woman at Wilson College for Arts Day on Wednesday? She used the name "Frida Kahlo," but that was a nom de guerre for this Guerrilla Girl, whom like other members of her group, uses the name of a deceased female artist.

Like the Lone Ranger, armed with magic bananas instead of silver bullets, Kahlo is seeking to right injustices against women and minorities in the arts. Kahlo told students and other guests that the Guerrilla Girls were founded in 1985 and use "facts, humor, a little fake fur" to expose sexism and racism in the art world.

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"We like to feel we could be anyone and be anywhere," Kahlo said of the anonymity the masks provide the Guerrilla Girls.

Women are better represented in the U.S. Senate, with 14 percent of the membership, than in Hollywood, where they occupy only about 4 percent of director's chairs, according to Kahlo's presentation.

In 2002, the group put up its "Anatomically Correct Oscar" billboard in Los Angeles, pointing out that no woman had ever won a Best Director statuette, 94 percent of writing awards had gone to men and, at the time, just three Academy Awards had gone to people of color.

At the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., 98 percent of the works on display were by men and more than 99 percent of the artists were white, Kahlo said. The numbers at the National Portrait Gallery and Hirshorn were similar, she said.

The group produced a faux tabloid magazine cover to convey the message that the works of women and minorities often are in storage, not on display.

"Thousands of Women Locked in Basements of D.C. Museums," the cover declared.

Kahlo participated in another event at Arts Day, operating a four-ton roller to make a giant woodcut.

Written on walkways of the campus were haiku and other forms of expression - prose and verse, music and dance, painting, pottery and more - were encouraged.

The Student Art Exhibition in the Bogigian Gallery in Lortz Hall will be on view through April 25. The "Salon des refuse's," works that were not selected for the exhibition, will be on display in rooms 200 and 300 of Lortz hall through April 25.

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