The Art of Feminism

Last week, I almost walked into Gloria Steinem’s office.feminist t-shirts Well, almost.

See, I was wandering around Seattle taking pictures of people when I came across a couple of stylish guys in front of an art gallery. I asked to take their picture, and they kindly obliged.

What I neglected to do was enter the gallery and check out the exhibit. When I arrived home I went to the gallery’s site and found, to my surprise, their current show is a feminist retrospective titled “Art and Artifacts from the Office of Gloria Steinem.”

Needless to say, I returned to Form/Space Atelier the following week to see what I had missed. The gallery is a small space, tucked into the lobby of the Low Income Housing Institute. The exhibit includes objects gifted to the gallery by the office of Gloria Steinem. It was as much a gallery as it was a museum.

An installation piece at the entry displayed an old typewriter with a seemingly endless roll of paper feeding through it—and I’m sure that’s how it felt to begin letter-writing campaigns—an endless job. The piece included two chairs with two coats hanging over them—to me, that represented the collaborative nature of the office.

letter to Jesse JacksonI saw copies of letters Gloria Steinem wrote to people such as Jesse Jackson, and I saw prints of the iconic power stance of Steinem and Dorothy Pitman. Seeing the two women, whose backgrounds are very different, working together at the intersection of civil rights, women’s rights, and community activism helped me see the feminist movement as more inclusive than people give it credit. It reminded me that women’s rights are important to everyone and the results benefit the community—and country—as a whole.

As a quick primer, Steinem and Pitman cofounded the Women’s Action Alliance in 1971 and are longtime friends and speaking partners. They both work tirelessly to fight sexism, racism and classism.

Dorothy Pitman Hughes is a writer, speaker, activist and a lifelong champion for women, children and families. She organized the first battered women’s shelter in New York City.

Gloria Steinem is a writer and best-selling author, lecturer, editor, feminist activist and organizer, and co-founder of Ms. magazine.

I’m glad I had a chance for a do-over. I went back to see what I missed the first time I walked past the gallery. The experience reminded me to keep my eyes open and see the signs of art and feminism and community collaboration that are all around me.

The show runs through April 17th.

This is a fifth group post organized by the Feminist Fashion Bloggers. To see what others wrote, check out their posts.

Sources: “Q&A with Author and Activist Dorothy Pitman Hughes” by Cristin Wilson, Jan 27, 2011


Filed under Art, Feminism

14 responses to “The Art of Feminism

  1. I just wanted everyone who posted to know the exhibit was a tremendous critical success! If anyone is interested in continuing the dialog, I suggest a move to snail mail. Send a postcard to the gallery, Form/Space Atelier, 2407 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98121-1311, we will send you a reply with keepsakes from the exhibit and more!

    Thank you everyone who commented in support of the exhibit. Form/Space Atelier is very grateful.



  2. Oh how awesome! I love that a gallery did this.

    A quick brag: I’ve met her. She came into the place I was interning for a meeting, and of course the other interns and I were googly-eyed. When I dashed out for lunch afterward, she was waiting at the elevator bank. I sort of was freaking out BECAUSE IT WAS GLORIA FREAKIN’ STEINEM but she was totally cool and put me at ease. (I’m sure she’s used to it from wee feminists.) I tried to explain away my nerves by saying I was hungry because I hadn’t had a good breakfast, and she suggested that I make protein shakes in the morning with powdered protein, like she did. So, yes, in a way I’ve gotten a diet tip from Gloria Steinem.

    • So cool! Thanks for sharing. I get all shy when I meet someone I admire. I just can’t think of anything intelligent to say. I’m glad you got up the nerve (and got nutritious information from her).

  3. Jean, thank you for the excellent report! I am very grateful for your inquiry. Keep up the good work, your eye seems to be hungry for most interesting phenomena.


    Paul K. Pauper

    • Oh, thank YOU! I really appreciate the time you took showing me the exhibit. I hope lots of other people get to see it! I’m looking forward to your other shows.

      • Jean,

        We are on the Belltown Artwalk, I strongly encourage you to visit the gallery each THIRD THURSDAY for our vernissages. Always a great time to meet the artist exhibiting, and have a expanded dialogue about the objects and concepts intervening in the spaces of Form/Space Atelier.

        Until then,

        Your New Friend,


  4. What a lucky treat! So glad you went back!

  5. That sounds like a great exhibition/gallery! glad you found it, and in such an accidental way!

  6. This was a bit of synchronicity…and in my conversations with other women this week, I have realized how the massive amount of work these women did is now taken for granted by too many American women.

  7. Oh, I would have loved to have seen that exhibit! I’m glad you were able to get back to the gallery to check it out!

  8. Thank you one and all for the favorable comments! The exhibit ends April 17, visit us Wednesday through Saturday 12-4PM. Stop in!


  9. Sounds like a fascinating exhibition – wish it would cross the pond! I’d love to see more like this, just to remind everyone what an incredible amount of effort certain women invested to get us to this point.

  10. A quick reminder, Belltown artwalk is Second Friday:

    -Paul Kuniholm Pauper

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