Press Release

Thursday, April 21, 2022 - 11:51am
Oakland Museum Of California Announces Hella Feminist, An Exhibition Exploring The Multifaceted History Of Feminism In The Bay Area And Beyond
Historical Artifacts, Thought-Provoking Art, and Interactive Elements Will Expand and Challenge Visitors’ Understanding of Feminism in this Timely and Original Exhibition, Exhibition on view July 29, 2022 – January 8, 2023

(OAKLAND, CA) April 21, 2022 — On July 29, 2022, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) opens Hella Feminist, a major exhibition combining art and historical artifacts that explores the diverse individual and collective stories of feminism. Organized by Carin Adams, Erendina Delgadillo, and Lisa Silberstein, the exhibition takes on this complex topic by exploring powerful, lesser-known stories about feminism in the Bay Area and California over the last 100 years, as well as the timely issues that our society faces today. Press images are available here.

Bringing together historic objects from the Museum’s collection such as posters, pins, and photographs, alongside newly commissioned works by artists, Hella Feminist is rooted in the idea that discrimination against all elements of identity (gender, class, race, sexual orientation, physical ability, education, age, etc.) is interlinked and that no element can be addressed in isolation. The exhibition aims to challenge, provoke, and inspire visitors to reconsider and expand their understanding of feminism and its complicated history. 

Hella Feminist will highlight the lesser-known elements of feminist histories—particularly the experiences of people of color—but also demonstrate how mainstream feminism at times made harmful compromises that were exclusionary,” said Erendina Delgadillo, co-curator of the exhibition. “During the 2020 100th anniversary year of the passing of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed and protected white women’s constitutional right to vote, we thought it was especially important to reflect on the less discussed parts of this history,” added exhibition co-curator Carin Adams. “By looking back at history, while inviting contemporary artists to comment on the present, Hella Feminist invites visitors to consider a future where feminism looks beyond gender-based inequality to the intersection of multiple aspects of identity.” 

The exhibition will be divided into three sections, Mind, Body, and Spirit, corresponding to how feminism is experienced in each of these areas.  “Mind” sets the social and political contexts (laws, social expectations, policy, popular culture) that feminism addresses. “Body” speaks to the ways female/femme bodies have been judged, restricted, regulated, and celebrated.  “Spirit” explores female and nonbinary individuals who turn to the mystical, the metaphysical, and the spiritual in order to find strength and power.

Visitors will enter the exhibition through a long hallway filled with a variety of undergarments from the Museum’s extensive collection, many of which have never been displayed to the public before, including corsets, stockings, petticoats, and underwear from the mid-19th century to the present day. The garments will be punctuated with dress forms, mannequins, and leg molds, inviting the viewer to confront idealized female bodies of the past. Other highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Historic abortion rally posters, birth control handbooks, and other materials relating to pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.
  • A section representing and exploring the four waves of feminism.
  • Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl, the creators of the bestselling books Rad Women Worldwide and Rad Girls Can, will create a site-specific installation featuring 300 papercut portraits of a diverse array of women and nonbinary people from Oakland, Berkeley, and the East Bay. Each portrait will appear in a corresponding zine, produced especially for the exhibition, that will tell viewers about who each person is and what kind of work they do for themselves, their community, their family, and their survival. A limited number of these one-of-a-kind zines will be available for visitors to take home. The installation will also include audio interviews with the featured individuals. 
  • Contemporary artwork by Xandra Ibarra, including She’s on the Rag, a print series made from menstrual blood, and documentation from Ibarra’s performances as a hyper-sexualized, hyper-racialized version of herself.
  • Ephemera showing how sex education in the Bay Area has evolved over time.
  • A sampling of diverse sex toys from Feelmore Oakland, owned by Nenna Joiner. 
  • Works by contemporary California artists like Katherine Sherwood, Craig Calderwood, and Judy Dater that explore the intersections of feminism and disability, queer/transness, and the female form, respectively.
  • An interactive designed by astrologer and medium Jessica Lanyadoo where visitors can release their frustrations, anger, despair, exhaustion, and other emotions caused by a world that continues to be inequitable and unjust.

“Feminism is a loaded word that can be both empowering and challenging,” said Lori Fogarty, Director and CEO of OMCA. “Hella Feminist aims to explore the nuances of the term and related movements, activities, and historic events. As with much of our programming, the Museum is taking a global issue and investigating it on a local and regional scale to encourage our audiences to rethink, redefine, and confront a complex and timely topic.”

Hella Feminist is supported in part by the Oakland Museum Women’s Board.

 


 

ON VIEW

Edith Heath: A Life in Clay

Great Hall

On View until October 30, 2022

Trailblazer. Rebel. Revolutionary. Discover the story of Edith Heath, founder and designer of Heath Ceramics. Heath transformed the ceramics industry, creating dinnerware from California clay for “Sunday best” and everyday use. Driven by the power of good design, and a commitment to her craft, Heath’s vision continues to live on through her stoneware and tile over 70 years later. Durable, not delicate, simple, yet stylish, Heath Ceramics is an icon of American design.

 

UPCOMING

Angela Davis: Seize the Time

Great Hall

October 7, 2022–June 11, 2023

Angela Davis: Seize the Time is an exhibition focused on Davis and her image. Organized in partnership with the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, the exhibition provides a compelling and layered narrative of Davis’s journey. Using the Angela Davis Archive in Oakland as both the heart of the exhibition and a source, visitors are given the opportunity to investigate how we remember, preserve, and activate radical Black history, while also allowing us to re-imagine the construction of the image of Davis as an icon of American Black radical resistance, female empowerment, and a threat to the white patriarchal status quo.

Beyond the archive and popular culture references, the exhibition positions Angela Davis as a continuing touchstone for contemporary artists referencing mass incarceration, Black Lives Matter, and economic disenfranchisement. Contemporary artworks assert Davis’ significance as a Black feminism intellectual and engage with her as a historical participant in a larger narrative, not simply as an unmoored image of radical chic. 

 

ABOUT THE OAKLAND MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) tells the many stories that comprise California, creating the space and context for greater connection, trust, and understanding between people. Through its inclusive exhibitions, public programs, educational initiatives, and cultural events, OMCA brings Californians together and inspires greater understanding about what our state's art, history, and natural surroundings teach us about ourselves and each other. With more than 1.9 million objects, OMCA brings together its multidisciplinary collections of art, history, and natural science with first-person accounts and often untold narratives of California, all within its 110,000 square feet of gallery space and seven-acre campus. The Museum is a leading cultural institution of the Bay Area and a resource for the research and understanding of California's dynamic cultural and environmental heritage for visitors from the region, the state, and around the world.

VISITOR INFORMATION

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is at 1000 Oak Street, at 10th Street, in Oakland. Museum admission is $16 general; $11 seniors and students with valid ID, $7 youth ages 13 to 17, and free for Members and children 12 and under. There is a $5 charge in addition to general admission pricing for special exhibitions in the Great Hall. OMCA offers onsite underground parking and is conveniently located one block from the Lake Merritt BART station, on the corner of 10th Street and Oak Street. An accessibility ramp is located at the 1000 Oak Street main entrance to the Museum. museumca.org 

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