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We were delighted to receive the Art is a Hammer Award from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics on October 20, 2013. The ceremony took place at an event called Celebrating the Art of Resistance at the Professional Musicians Union, Local 47 in Hollywood, California. The award’s name was inspired by this quote: “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it,” by Vladimir Mayakovsky. Curiously, the same quote has also been attributed to Bertolt Brecht. Writer Terry Wolverton presented us with the award. The event was a wonderful gathering of activists and artists and it included a silent auction of a vast array of political posters. We purchased two: Sheila de Bretteville’s Pink poster and one with the Art is a Hammer quote (attributed to Brecht) by design firm Helvetica Jones. At the end of this blog post you can read the biographical notes that were in the program as well as our acceptance speech. We were thrilled to have so many dear friends and collaborators in the audience and grateful to our employers, Harvard-Westlake School and Otis College of Art and Design, for their support of the event. The CSPG is a wonderful organization doing fantastic work by preserving and archiving political posters in which artists contribute so greatly to social movements.
On September 7, 2013, we attended the awards ceremony at the Women and Media Conference put on by the Veteran Feminists of America, We were there to celebrate Joannie Parker, long-time feminist activist and former head of Women’s Studies at Westlake School for Girls, now Harvard-Westlake School. The event was organized by another former colleague Martha Wheelock. We were surprised when we were given medals for our work in the arts and at the Woman’s Building. Our daughter Xochi was thrilled to meet famous civil rights attorney Gloria Allred.
Cheri Gaulke and Sue Maberry Biographical Notes from the CSPG Program
Cheri Gaulke and Sue Maberry met at the Woman’s Building, a feminist art center, in 1977 and have been a couple since 1979. They have worked individually and collaboratively as artists, activists and educators. At the Woman’s Building they often collaborated on programming and graphic design projects. They conceived the media event to hoist Kate Millet’s gigantic Naked Lady sculpture to the roof, which made the front page of the Los Angeles Times. In 1981, they cofounded Sisters Of Survival, an anti-nuclear performance group who wore nun’s habits in the spectrum of the rainbow, and used public performance and graphic design to network with artists and activists in North America and Western Europe. Gaulke and Maberry have also collaborated with their daughters, Marka and Xochi, on artworks about lesbian family.
Maberry was a program director both at the Woman’s Building and at the Armory Center for the Arts. After receiving a Masters in Library Science, Maberry became Director of the Library at Otis College of Art and Design in 1992. There she has led efforts to incorporate the use of new and developing web technologies within the college. She received a grant from the Getty in 2000 to begin digitizing the Woman’s Building archive and make an image bank available online. She then created the TLC (Teaching Learning Center) to assist and train faculty in the use of technology in the curriculum. The TLC received a Center of Excellence Award from New Media Consortium in 2007 for their groundbreaking work in instructional technology. She has continued to make visible the history of the Woman’s Building as co-curator of a Getty-sponsored Pacific Standard Time exhibition at Otis College in 2011-12 that included the publication of two catalogs, video oral histories, and extensive online resources.
As an artist, Gaulke brings a feminist perspective to a variety of issues working in such media as video, performance, artists’ books, and public art. She cofounded performance group Feminist Art Workers in 1976. She made a video with LGBT teens, designed the first U.S. memorial to Filipino WWII veterans, and created environmental video installations such as LA River Project with teens from East LA. She has completed ten permanent public art works including the Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park Metro Station that celebrates the role of water in Los Angeles.
Gaulke has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, California Community Foundation and LA’s Cultural Affairs Department. In 2011-12, her work was featured in Pacific Standard Time exhibitions at LACE and Otis.
At Harvard-Westlake School, Gaulke has facilitated students to create award-winning videos as teacher, Upper School Head of Visual Arts and Director of Summer Film. As Artistic Director of The Righteous Conversations Project, she brings together Holocaust survivors and teens to produce public service announcements about social injustices. Recently, with Friendship Tours World Travel, she took students to Laos to make documentaries about the Secret War and will travel to Rwanda for the 20th anniversary of the genocide in 2014.
Cheri Gaulke and Sue Maberry Acceptance Speech
(Sue) Thank you to Carol Wells and the Board of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics for honoring us today. We are humbled and grateful. The work of this organization is so very important and we hope you will all continue to support it. Thank you to all of our friends who are here to celebrate with us. Thank you Terry for that wonderful introduction.
(Cheri) We asked Terry to introduce us because we share a common core. For us the stereotype of the lone artist struggling in the studio could not be further from reality. Artist and activists flourish in a community and the Woman’s Building was that for us. We feel profoundly lucky to have been born at an historical moment of second wave feminism that gave birth to this place that in turn nurtured our development.
(Sue) At the Woman’s Building there was always something activist to do. There were exhibitions and educational programs to organize, and art projects of all kinds to work on with other people. Making art collaboratively was in and of itself a political statement. And it was fun.
(Cheri) We particularly acknowledge our Woman’s Building mentors: performance artist Suzanne Lacy, designer Sheila de Bretteville, and the late great art historian Arlene Raven. We embraced her definition of the function of feminist art, which applies to all activist art: to raise consciousness, invite dialogue and transform culture. We are grateful that so many organizations, such as CSPG, continue to exist and support activist art.
The spirit of the Woman’s Building lives on in our hearts. Its roots are deep. Many of the relationships forged there continue and over the years new and equally strong relationships have grown. That includes many of you here today. A network of new connections continue to spiral out. And it’s pretty great that we found each other there and began a life-long relationship and partnership in all things.
(Sue) We have been able to bring what we learned at the Woman’s Building into new settings. We both found supportive organizations where we could continue to be creative, as artists, activists and educators. We are grateful for our positions at Otis College of Art and Design and Harvard-Westlake School.
(Cheri) I am also grateful for my collaborations with The Righteous Conversations Project and Friendship Tours World Travel. I would also like to acknowledge my parents who supported me to pursue my passion for art and my mother for introducing me to strong women artists such as Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe and Kathe Kollwitz.
(Sue) And to our beloved twin daughters Marka and Xochi who couldn’t be here today because they are away at college. They have learned the value of community and have joined us in taking up the hammer.
(Cheri) A colleague recently said to me, “We need to find something fun for you to do.” He was referring to my recent work with survivors of the Secret War in Laos, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and a new program about domestic violence. I said, “But Jim, this is fun for me! Raising awareness about these issues, and getting teens excited about doing the same — that’s my idea of a good time.”
And now to be receiving an award on top of it all! What could be better? So here’s to lots more fun for all of us in the future!
Photo: Cheri Gaulke facilitates a discussion during a Righteous Conversations Project workshop at Harvard-Westlake School, summer 2012.
This article by Danielle Berrin in the Jewish Journal has been a year in the making. Berrin first visited our Righteous Conversations Project workshop at Harvard-Westlake last summer. This year’s workshop starts next week with 32 teen participants, 8 Holocaust survivors, 6 master teachers, 6 teaching assistants and additional RCP support staff. My how we have grown! I anticipate another profound experience for all resulting in a new crop of social-change-making public service announcements.
Below I have excerpted part of the article that talks about my role as Artistic Director. But do check out the whole article. It is very well written and captures the context and motivation for what we do in The Righteous Conversations Project.
From the article:
Cheri Gaulke, the head of Harvard-Westlake’s Upper School Visual Arts Department, is the project’s artistic director, and she helped secure the space for use. “The whole idea just clicked for me,” Gaulke said. “I’m really passionate about teens learning how to use media to affect the world, because that’s the world we live in. And teens need to be not just consumers of media, but makers of media. I liked the idea of giving them the tools of advertising to sell an idea, rather than a product.”
At every Righteous Conversations workshop, Gaulke teaches an intensive media literacy lesson that, in Hutman’s words, shows teens “how to flex their moral conscience and moral outrage through media.” In practical terms, it equips them with a media vocabulary to enable them not just to conceive ideas, but also to visualize them.
Where Righteous Conversations departs from most other forms of Holocaust chronicling is in its call to action. It is a model for tikkun that comes directly from the Torah: just as with the recounting of the Exodus story, the act of digging deep into a formative ancestral pain is meant to awaken in future generations the pain of others.
Gaulke, who is not Jewish, said her own daughter, Xochi, had participated in one of the workshops and discovered a profound connection with a survivor, John Gordon, now deceased. “Gordon, who passed away, was sharing how he was liberated and then came to America. He said that for a long time he was ‘living in the closet’ as a Jew — he was afraid to tell his co-workers that he was Jewish. And as a daughter of lesbians, my daughter really connected with that,” Gaulke said. “Individuals come to the universal from the personal, and it’s the personal that transforms society.”
Please join me this coming Saturday evening, Feb. 11, 6-9 pm, for an opening of the exhibition Breaking in Two: Provocative Visions of Motherhood. I got to see much of the show during installation this week and it’s really wonderful. I am exhibiting a new work called Twin Diptych. When I was invited to be a part of this show I knew I wanted to do something in collaboration with my partner, Sue Maberry, and our daughters, Xochi and Marka Maberry-Gaulke. We decided to explore portraiture and got to thinking about how parents pose their children when the kids are little and they have nothing to say about it. We have a portrait of Xochi and Marka as angels and everyone adores it. The truth is that the little darlings were absolutely miserable during the shoot and the photograph represents that one moment when they appeared to be happy. Sue and I decided to photograph them as angels again, but this time give them the opportunity to pose us any way they desired. We got off easy as they decided to pose us as American Gothic by Grant Wood. We chose to mimic William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s angels. Many of you saw a shot from the series on our holiday card. In addition I will be showing the artists’ book, Marriage Matters, and the video by Xochi and Marka called Our Wedding.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BREAKING IN TWO: PROVOCATIVE VISIONS OF MOTHERHOOD
FEBRUARY 11 – APRIL 14, 2012
(event schedule below)
ARENA 1 A project of Santa Monica Art Studios
3026 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 6 pm
Curated by Bruria Finkel, filmed by Sabine Sighicelli
Contact information: Tel: 310 251 4299, Bruriaart@roadrunner.com
BREAKING IN TWO is the first comprehensive exhibition of work by women artists who are mothers where the work itself integrates the maternal experience, the relationship to the body, the child, the family, and the society at large. The exhibition, which is part of Pacific Standard Time, will feature a multi‐cultural group of four generations of nationally and internationally recognized artist‐mothers selected to represent the multi‐faceted and changing realities of motherhood. The exhibition includes painting, drawing, sculpture, collage and assemblage, installation, photography, film/video, poetry/writing and performance. Curator Bruria Finkel, herself an artist, asserts that “the subject of motherhood was taboo in the art world in the 70s; women artists were advised not to disclose their motherhood status for it might interfere with their ability to progress in the art world.”
PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: Kim Abeles, Lita Albuquerque, Eleanor Antin, Michele Asselin, Jo Ann Callis, Joyce Dallal, Bruria Finkel, Magaret Garcia, Cheri Gaulke, Tierney Gearon, Judithe Hernandez, Channa Horwitz, Katherine Jacobi, Mary Kelly, Margaret Lazzari, Andrea Liss, M. A. M. A., Kim McCarty, MaryLinda Moss, Mother Art, Sandra Mueller, Pearls of Wisdom: End the Violence, Renee Petropoulos, Astrid Preston, Alison, Saar, Betye Saar, Sola Augustsson Saar, Lezley Saar, Reva Santo, Sylvia Sher, Amy Shimshon‐Santo, Elena Mary Siff, Doni Silver Simons, Linda Vallejo, June Wayne, Ruth Weisberg, Miriam Wosk, Kim Yasuda, and Stella Zhang.
February 11, 2012, 5–6 pm VIP opening, 6–9 pm Public opening
February 26, 2012, 12–3 pm Walk-through curator and artists
March 17, 2012, 3–5 pm Mothers on Motherhood: Dance and Spoken Word Performance
March 31, 2012, 2–5 pm Panel discussion, the social and aesthetic implications of Motherhood, a scholarly interaction
April 14, 2012, 6–10 pm Exhibition closing celebration
Emerging from the educational programs at the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles, Feminist Art Workers incorporated techniques of feminist education into participatory performance structures. We addressed issues of community (Heaven or Hell?), violence against women (This Ain’t No Heavy Breathing and Traffic in Women: A Feminist Vehicle), and equal pay for equal work (Bills of Rights). Our performances took place in locations as varied as city streets (Pieta, Afloat), during protest rallies (Draw Your Own Conclusions: Know on 13), in coffee houses, art galleries and museums.
Klick and I will offer insight into this historic art work, the time period, and the Woman’s Building, an organization that has had a huge impact on the form and content of contemporary art. We will also have a sneak preview copy of our new 230-page book, Feminist Art Workers: A History, as well as the book, Sisters Of Survival, about the anti-nuclear performance group that I cofounded. Both books will be available for purchase at $20 (SOS) and $25 (FAW) – cash or check only. This is an excellent opportunity to see one of the most interesting Pacific Standard Time exhibitions and hear personal stories from two artists who lived the history.
I hope to see you on Saturday at 11 am at Otis College of Art and Design Gallery, 4500 Lincoln Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045. For more info, go to the gallery website: http://otis.edu/public_programs/ben_maltz_gallery/womansbuilding.html. There are all kinds of video interviews and other interesting stuff that can be found there. And it’s all free!
Also stay tuned for notice of a private tour of my other Pacific Standard Time installation at LACE in Hollywood, which closes January 29. You can always check my blog for information about what I’m up to and if you sign up you’ll receive occasional notices.
Thanks and I hope to see you Saturday!
– Cheri Gaulke