|WACK-O: Extreme Politics and the Poster
Donald Moffett, He Kills Me (installation detail), 1987, courtesy
of the artist
January 26 - February 18, 1998
An exhibition of contemporary political posters from the United States
organized by Donald Moffett is presented in the interior galleries.
Spanning the last thirty years, the exhibition explores a wide variety
of social, political, and cultural issues including gender- and race-related
rights, sexuality, AIDS, queer politics, reproduction politics, censorship
and the arts, war, public housing, and animal rights. Moffett writes:
The political poster, as an art form, is the giant equivalent of
the greeting card. It floats weightlessly above (or below) academic
ritual, rigor, or training. It mocks conservation and archival ambition
and sluts around as ephemera. It has no market muscle. It is
greased by hyperbole and can reek of sentiment. But, unlike the personal
scale and 1-on-1 format of a Hallmark card, the poster is made for a crowd.
Unlike the intimate whisper of a card, it strips for the back row.
Reckless and cheap, it is the grand pedestrian slate for deep emotions
and, most unlike its dime store midget cousin, the fierce place of politics.
In WACK-O, the political poster stands as a firewall between political
camps--isolating both, defining the factions, and leveling or neutralizing
the inevitable balance of power. The organizational logic is simple;
either the poster flaunts a seemingly extreme posture (e.g. Fierce Pussy's
"Read My Lips" and Bob Flanagan's "Fight Sickness with Sickness"), or it
acts out in self-defense against a perceived extremism (e.g. Barbara Kruger's
"Your Body is a Battleground" or Bethany John's "Keep Your Rosaries Off
My Ovaries"). In this teetering pack of humorists, satirists, libertarians,
malcontents, and bullies, "extreme" is exposed as subjective, fluid, unstable,
unpredictable, and--like us--is vulnerable to fickle fate and time.
"Extreme" like "beautiful" depends on your mood or your morals or your
WACK-O is All-American: in its issues, its challenges, and maybe
most tellingly, its comfort with the very radical notion of free speech.
Born or adopted into this constitutional right, the participants (including
the viewers) will flex their entitlement, occasionally trample civility,
and in the process test and re-test this stubbornly democratic and artful
Although wounded by higher-tech forms of free speech, as the voice
of the people drifts to public-access cable TV and the global interment
"chat room," the political poster won't be stopped. It will forever
be the soapbox whore to every pathetic economy and penny ante photo copyist.
With the twisted precision of a tax form, it will perennially commandeer
your space--sapping or fortifying your strength, stomping or stroking your
ego, fingering your fears, messing with your assumptions--all in the name
Welcome to the fray.
The exhibition includes work by ACT
UP, Robbie Conal, Gran Fury, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Les Levine,
Sister Corita Kent, Marlene McCarty, the Negro Art Collective, and others.
Donald Moffet was born in San Antonio, Texas where he attended Trinity
University, receiving degrees in art and biology before moving to New York
in the late 1970s. He began exhibiting his work in numerous group
shows and one-person exhibitions at the Wessell O’Connor Gallery and Simon
Watson. His work has been shown in the 1993 Whitney Biennial and
at New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Boston Museum of Fine
Arts, M.I.T.’s List Visual Arts Center, and most recently at the Wadsworth
Atheneum in Hartford, CT. Moffett was a founding member of the AIDS
activist collective Gran Fury.
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Guerrilla Girls Talk Back: The First Five Years
(1985 - 1990)
Guerrilla Girls, Do women have to be naked
to get into the Met. Museum?,
1989, offset lithograph, SLU 97.21.24
January 26 - February 18, 1998
The portfolio Guerrilla Girls Talk Back: The First Five Years (1985-1990)
is presented in the hallway gallery. The thirty-one offset lithographs
in the portfolio include such posters as Dearest Art Collector;
Guerrilla Girls’ Definition of a Hypocrite; Women in America
earn only 2/3 of what men do/Women artists earn only 1/3 of what men artists
do; and The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist (“Not being stuck
in a tenured teaching position,” “Seeing your ideas live on in the work
of others,” “Having the opportunity to choose between career and motherhood”).
Posters like these originally appeared wheat-pasted to telephone poles,
fences, and buildings in New York’s SoHo where they became part of the
visual collage of the city; these works now often make their appearance
in an entirely different setting, that of a university art gallery or public
Self-proclaimed consciences of the art world, the Guerrilla Girls is
a group of anonymous women artists and art professionals who target museums,
galleries, and collectors for exhibiting and collecting artwork based primarily
on the Western male-centered artistic canon. Increasingly, their
attention has focused on the media and the reluctance of critics and editors
to cover women artists and artists of color. Over the past twelve
years, they have produced various posters, postcards, and a book, Confessions
of the Guerrilla Girls, which tackle issues of sexism and racism in
the art world. Most recently they have established a presence on
the internet at www.guerrillagirls.org.
Special thanks to Joost de Laat ’98, Jennifer Farrell ’98, Kyle Gardner
’98, Denise LaVine ’00, Rebecca Kush ’99, and Cristianne McKenna ’99 for
designing and installing the exhibition, and Tonki Reidy ’96 for research
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Creative Responses to Global Warnings
In conjunction with the 1998 St. Lawrence University Festival of the Arts,
the exhibition Creative Responses to Global Warnings presents a
diverse collage of works by professional and emerging artists, college
students, school children, and community groups from around the world and
our own back yard. Through traditional painting, photography, fiber
arts, sculpture, and more recent technology-related media, these artists
have chosen a variety of strategies to respond to local and global environmental
issues--from highlighting endangered ecosystems, to photodocumenting civil
rights-related environmental justice movements, to creating interactive
Web-sites. The responses take many forms--from individual to collective,
amateur to proficient, spiritual, political, and educational -- but these
artists all share a commitment to using their work as a form of environmental
February 25 - March 18, 1998
Related Educational Programs
Prilla Smith Brackett, Remnants: Communion
#12, 1997, collaged paper,
graphite, charcoal, acrylic, and oil on canvas
Artists represented in the exhibition include Anna Gerhard Arnold,
Mae Bigtree and Celia Jock,Velma Bolyard, Prilla
Becky Harblin, Sandy Hildreth,
Sam Kittner, Vera Ponko, Carol Rubsamen, Clint Shenandoah, and Jaune Quick-to-See
Smith. Also participating will be students from St. Lawrence University,
and students from the classes of Rich Hammill at Colton-Pierrepont Central
School, Sally Hartman at Heuvelton Central School, Kathy Kortz at Thousand
Islands Community School, Becky Milone at Clifton-Fine Central School,
Sandy Hildreth at Madrid-Waddington Central School, Jean Hamilton at Edwards-Knox
Central School, and Marti Ricci of Liberty Partnership/Tropical Rainforest
Outreach Program at Watertown High School and Jefferson Community College.
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Hurricane Voices and Sacred Hands
An exhibition of student collages from Cultural Encounters (CE) and
short essays, poetry, and visuals from student-published zines from the
First-Year Program's Grrl! Talk is presented
in the interior galleries. An opening reception for the artists is
scheduled in the Gallery on Thursday, March 26 at 4:00 p.m.
March 26 - April 17, 1998
Collages from Introduction to Intercultural Studies CE 150
and Border Crossings on Film CE 200
Detail of collage by Adam Hamburg '01
Can we look at the images and texts that fill our environment and see
what is not there? Whenever we speak, perform, or create in the present,
we make choices about what to include, what to question, what to forget,
and what to disguise from the past. For over 500 years, since the
first modern contacts by Europeans with the Americas, Africa, and Asia,
an official Eurocentric history has uneasily coexisted with (counter)narratives
and (counter)knowledges that were ignored in dominant discourse in the
West. What other visions could emerge? Can we help each other
tell different stories? SLU students in two Cultural Encounters courses
were asked to create visual and literary works that shift our perspectives
on surrounding images and honor what has been dishonored in the past. Like
a hurricane, creativity can disrupt and rearrange whatever is normalized.
With sacred hands, ruptured histories, environments, and communities can
Zines from FYP Grrl! Talk
Detail of collage by E.Powell '00
The Washington-based Riot Grrls! organized in response to the male
domination of the late '80s youth punk scene. Not only interested
in forming all-girl bands, Riot Grrls! and other young women became politically
active, organized meetings, and reached out to each other and other girls
through fanzines. The zines were a powerful and accessible form of
communication; photocopied and distributed often by hand, these publications
carry in-your-face messages and often a rough appearance that is as much
a sign of their informality as it is a message of the writers' breaks with
convention. As the popular press in the nineteenth century provided
wider-scale access to publication opportunities for women, the net has
opened up a broad audience for many, including zine writers, contributing
to the national popularity of some zines. The zines too have an antecedent
in the underground, feminist texts of the 1970s which were run off, stapled
and distributed by feminist groups.
The zines written for the SLU First-Year Program college, Grrl! Talk,
are mindful of the historical connection of feminist activism through varied
types of publications and are also fresh and young in the spirit of the
zine movement. The voices in the zines from Grrl! Talk, like the voices
in the zine movement, are as varied in tone, focus and subject as young
—Mary Barkley and Anne Mamary
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Recent Acquisitions from the Permanent Collection
Stephanie Welsh, untitled color photograph from
A Rite of Passage, 1995, SLU 96.16.4
St. Lawrence University maintains a permanent collection of nearly 7,000
art objects and artifacts, with strengths in 20th C. works on paper from
the United States and Europe, including photographs, prints, artists' books
and portfolios, and drawings. Its primary function as a teaching
collection is through the utilization of original works of art for rotating
exhibitions, campus displays, classroom study, and special student and
faculty projects. Objects are lent to institutions across the country,
and individual scholars make use of the collection for a variety of research
March 26 - April 17, 1998
A significant portion of the collection has been given to the University
through gifts from generous St. Lawrence alumni. Works of art are
also purchased every year through funds generated from the Griffiths Endowment,
and two endowments set up by Richard F. Brush, Class of 1952 - the Gilbert
and Kane Endowments. Many of the works in this exhibition were acquired
by the recommendation of SLU faculty for teaching purposes. For example,
in recent years Professor Roger Bailey in Fine Arts has coordinated a series
of artists-in-residence with Jack Beal and Sandra Freckelton, in which
the two artists come to campus to create hand-colored lithographs.
Copies of these prints were later donated to the University. Dr.
Steven White in Modern Languages facilitated the purchase of the gouache
painting by visionary artist, Pablo Amaringo, through the professor's Brazilian
colleague, Dr. Luis Eduardo Luna. Luna is organizing an exhibition
of visionary art for the Gallery to be presented in the spring of 1999.
Dr. David Lloyd recommended the purchase of a series of 14 photographs
of female genital mutilation in Kenya by Stephanie Welsh for students and
faculty in African Studies.
A University tripartite Collections Development Committee makes formal
recommendations regarding acquisitions and helps identify long-range collecting
goals that are in keeping with the functions of a teaching collection.
In the last nine years, the Gallery has had two primary goals in terms
of acquisitions. We have made a concerted effort to diversify the
collection by acquiring works by women and artists of color. Like
many institutional collections in this country, ours was at least 95% white
and male at the end of the 1980s. We have also focused on photography
as a medium in which to expand and strengthen the collection. With
a solid foundation of holdings of important photographs of the 20th century,
the University has acquired almost 200 additional photographs through gifts
and purchases since 1990. Recent purchases of works by artists such
as Bill Gaskins, Carole Gallagher, Nan Goldin, and Adrienne Salinger exemplify
our decision to address these goals.
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Barnes Endowment Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition
Open to all St. Lawrence students, the Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition
is sponsored by the Student Art Union, the Department of Fine Arts, and
the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery. This annual Barnes Endowment
exhibition is supported with additional funding provided by the Jeanne
Scribner Cashin Endowment for Fine Arts.
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From Litho Stone to Pentium Chip: Interpreting Gender
in U.S. World War I Posters
Anonymous (after Adolph Treidler), Untitled,
ca. 1917-1920, lithograph, 40 x 26 1/2 in., SLU 95.3.57
An exhibition of 50 U.S. World War I posters from the University's permanent
collection is presented in the hallway gallery with accompanying educational
text panels written by 45 students in two spring '98 semester Gender
Studies 103 classes.
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All exhibitions and related educational programs are
free and open to the public. The Gallery welcomes
individuals and groups for guided tours; please call 315 229-5174 for information.
Monday-Thursday 12-8 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 12-5 p.m.
The Gallery will be closed March 14 - 21 for spring break, but open
by appointment for individual or group visits.