For months, volunteers, students, collaborators and supporters of the Ladydrawers Comics Collective have been working on a ridiculous yet awesome endeavor—SEX. MONEY. RACE. GENDER: The Ladydrawers (of Chicago Ill.)—an exhibition and workshop series opening June 27 and running through July 27 at the A+D Gallery in Chicago. From the art work hanging along the walls of the gallery to a workshops series intended to heighten participant’s awareness and ability to relate with the world and people around them, S.M.R.G. is packed with social commentary and analysis revolving around our second favorite thing—COMICS. (Our first favorite thing is cats, but gallery regulations and the ASPCA prohibit us from utilizing live animals in the exhibition space.)
The June 27 opening is not to be missed. Chicago artist (and force behind Brain Frame) Lyra Hill will perform a live interpretation of her comic Go Down, a story that follows a teenage girl who buys a magic crystal before meeting her boyfriend in a park. Lyra will project the comic panel by panel in a video slideshow, using a loop and effects pedal to build soundscapes and voice for each character. Elizabeth White from New York City will initiate her project Labor, which will track exhibition participant’s efforts putting the show together. And DC-based Carolina Mayorga will work through themes of race and domestic work. Like, literally. In the gallery. At the opening. It will be awesome.
Several interactive, collaborative projects will open on July 27, but run through the month of the exhibition. The Search for Modesty, an installation/performance/residency/collaboration between Yasmin Nair and Gretchen Hasse, will situate the pair in-gallery to co-create a comic based on the life and times of Modesty Blaise, the super thief and then super-sleuth literary creation of Peter O’Donell. In addition to employing a unique collage technique, Hasse and Nair will script, thumbnail, pencil, and ink a segment of a story that links Modesty Blaise to the artists’ biographies, weaving together ideas and experiences to take a personal and political look at the influence of Modesty.
The collaborative mural The Wall of the Unknown by Chicago-based artists Polly Yates, Elliott Junkyard, Danielle Chenette, and Sarah Bell will map and record the four artists exploration of the themes of sex and gender through their shared disciplines of drawing and collage. The mural will be initiated at the opening and will be completed during the run of the exhibition.
The rad new project Cash Kitty, by sex-tech-and-politics reporter Melissa Gira Grant, will use a collaborative approach to meme-making combining cats (of course!) and Impact font. Inspired by the feature “Cats and Stacks” on the sex work blog Tits and Sass, Cash Kitty asks collaborators in the sex industry to take photos of the money they made in a night with their pets, and caption it with what they spent the money on, as a way of exploring the economic impact of sex work.
That’s the stuff you can look at: but what can you do? Interactive installations include giant coloring posters from Jacinta Bunnell thumb-tacked to the walls that will invite participants to color and feel like a big ol’ kid again. Burnell believes community coloring promotes discussion of gender, sexism, homophobia, candy, manarchy, playground and friendship and we believe her (she had us at gender). Liz Rush’s If You Do invites participants to interact with a large-format graphic gamebook. And Francis Kang and others from the Ladydrawers documentary crew eagerly await your presence, to ask you questions for about sex, money, race, and gender in cultural production for the Ladydrawers documentary. We know you’re not camera shy!
Ladydrawers founder and exhibition co-curator Anne Elizabeth Moore will also present a new interactive work called Sentimental. The project asks visitors to rewrite the Declaration of Sentiments—a women’s movement text written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and contemporaries intending to respond to, reflect, and correct the Declaration of Independence—in a text that will be reprinted, later, on the printing press that printed Stanton’s original in 1848. Over a century and a half later, Sentimental asks: What have women’s movements in the US accomplished for gender diversity and sexual health?
To extend the conversation beyond typical opening and closing night events, we’ve engineered a series of startling, amazing, captivating workshops. We’re not bragging on their awesomeness, by the way. It’s just a fact. The workshops will feature comics artists, educators, writers, and theorists that will facilitate talks and group projects on sex, money, gender, and race. Renowned comics and fine artist Esther Pearl Watson and health educator, artist, and writer Terri Kapsalis will create an updated sexual health version of Mort Walker’s Lexicon of Comicana, for example, and Delia Jean and Sarah Jaffe will take a look at what it take to make an honest living in the food service industry in a workshop called Life and Labor.
Of course we’ll also have a library, stocked with new and beloved releases created by exhibitors of S. M. R. G., Ladydrawers and other participating artists. We’ll have a reading room of sorts, where explorers of the exhibition will be invited to hang out and read some of the independently published work of their peers.
So, admit it. You love this idea and can’t wait to participate. Save the Date for the S. M. R. G. (STD SMRG): June 27 – July 27, 2013. See you then!