Figge installation II

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last week we were invited to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa (see details here) to install an oral history window mural entitled Let’s Chat About Civil Rights / Let’s Chat About Civic Memory. Here are a few process shots, with Sheika Lugtu, Melissa Mendes, Chris Reno, and Tessa Pozzi working on the mural. (Anne Elizabeth Moore was behind the camera.)

 

Figge installation

We’re off to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa at the behest of St. Ambrose University this week to install an original window mural. (In-progress draft below by Melissa Mendes.) The images, by Mendes and Sheika Lugtu, will be accompanied by oral histories from local Quad Cities residents regarding two major aspects of Davenport’s participation in the struggle for civil rights, and public commemoration of that past: the fight for equal marriage and black history.

IMAG2304_1

The interviews, conducted by Chris Reno and Tessa Pozzi of SAU’s Catich Gallery and edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore, focused on how folks defined and experienced civil rights, and what visible reminders of past struggles they had located in their community. Questions were inspired by articles on the queerest cities in America; this amazing wedding; and the city’s destruction of sites of black history, as well as this powerpoint presentation on civil rights in Iowa and this video (from SAU!) on a planned civil rights walking tour.

Our interviewees were very generous with their time and our questions, and gave some beautiful insight into the Davenport area, and the absolute importance of keeping a constantly updated notion of civil rights at the center of public conversation. You’ll see more in the mural when we finish it April 7—a part of SAU’s Fair Play conference, hope you can come—but some of the quotes we’re most inspired by are below.

PASTOR RICH HENDRICKS

“I didn’t come out until I was 40. I grew up here—the community has become more diverse. I left here when I went to college. I don’t remember any African-American kids in my elementary school. …

“I grew up a product of a poor education. We had no sex ed when I was growing up. I didn’t realize that gay was an option. … My only recollection of a comment when I was younger was, I can remember my folks or their friends saying something about ‘those people down by the levy.’ The way they said it, you could tell it was dirty. I didn’t know what they were talking about, but I could tell it was unacceptable. That was, you know, the cruising area.”

VICKI PHIPPS

“I have the best job in the whole world. In my own work, I address power relationships. In one of the projects I’m working on, I’m working with a biracial student on this notion of microaggressions. In general, why does a person of difference have to educate everyone else? Can art and design help further that?”

“I’m the last member of my family that could move back to the reservation. But people don’t meet me and go ‘Oh, Native American!’ Whereas they do see [my student] and go, ‘You’re black.’ So we both have a long list of things that follow us that you can’t leave behind. …”

KAYLA BUSHEY

“I feel like civil rights really mean equality. Equality for every type of person. … I feel like that really gets smudged along the way. It’s weird to say that I am this, or I am that, but according to standardized tests, I am half Caucasian, half African-American. My dad’s side is the white side and my mom’s side is the black side. It’s strange because here in school, either you’re a part of the Black Student Union, or you are the populous of the white student body. I feel like I try to tread that line—honestly, trying to get that privilege on both sides. Or wherever I can. I’ll go over to my dad’s side of the family. He’s a general in the military and he wants rights for people, but only if people have earned their rights. It’s hard to be like, well you were born with rights. Then I go to my mom’s side of the family, and she’s like, we need women’s rights, we need LGBTQ rights. I even have friends who haven’t experienced that push and pull from both sides. … I think when people pick and choose what kind of rights people should and shouldn’t get, they’re not really enforcing civil rights.”

ANONYMOUS

“Right or wrong, the assumption has been that gay, lesbian, transgender, and/or bisexual people are outside of the realm of—this is gonna sound bad—us good black folks. So then those of us who fit any of those [categories] are on the fringes. I remember studying sociology and talking about marginal people. So if you were white and gay and male in the 1960s, then you were kinda marginalized. But you still had your whiteness and your maleness, but if you’re black and lesbian, then you got nothin’.”

 

SWOP Behind Bars

We were honored to be asked to donate a copy of Threadbare: Clothes, Sex, and Trafficking to this amazing project that seeks to put books about sex work and sex workers’ rights in the Lowell Women’s Correctional Institution in Ocala, FL.

Here are a few more details, via email from one of the organizers:

SWOP Behind Bars has been created to create a connection between people who are imprisoned and our amazing community of sex workers activists and advocates. We have been invited to participate in the creation of a pilot program in Lowell Womens Prison in Ocala Florida by John Meekins that seeks to provide resources for people who will be released within the next 24 months.

This is a really big deal as it is quite unusual for a prison to allow – and in this case encourage – sex worker friendly material freely accessible in the prison library.

Please also note that the website for the project states:

You may send books that do not have anything to do with sex work or sex worker rights.  The ladies like novels, poetry, short stories, self help books, biographies, historical fiction and non-fiction, auto-biographies, GED study guides and How-To or DIY manuals. The program directors have encouraged us to send books on addiction and recovery as well.

Perhaps you have a few titles that might work in the library? Get in touch.

Comics Undressed request!

Friends,

As we round the final corners of this long, long, documentary-making process on this International Women’s Day, we have a request. We’d like to you to be involved directly in the film—possibly even in it. We have some questions and we’d love to hear what you have to say. Your feedback will be used to bolster the film’s message and narrative as we summarize our findings and thoughts.

Feel free to respond in writing or in video —  we may use your words to accompany our animation or we may include your video directly in the film. You can leave comments below, or reach us at ladydrawersdocumentary@gmail.com — we’ll be integrating feedback through the month.

Here are the questions:

  • What do you think the top 5 biggest or most interesting changes have been in the cultural sphere of comics, geek culture, and nerddom in the past few years, especially in regards to representation on the page, on the screen, and behind the scenes?
  • What has been the most significant change and how has it affected you?
  • What gives you hope, and what makes you ambivalent, hesitant, or nervous?

We can’t wait to hear your thoughts, and even more, we can’t wait to share the final product with you.

Ladydrawers at Harper College

We gave a super fun talk yesterday on gender, comics, and radical investigative methodologies at Harper College, where the delightful Brian Cremins invited us to yammer about what we do. Rivven made these amazing cow aprons, in honor of Sheika’s love of our bovine friends, and Anne had to wear regular clothes and look professional so they would let us in the door in the first place.

Thanks, Harper students, for coming out to draw with us yesterday!

IMG_2408

Photo by Brian Cremins.

2016-03-02 14.36.02

2016-03-02 13.48.022016-03-02 14.36.562016-03-02 11.50.272016-03-02 11.50.18

Reads like a graphic novel … except it’s non-fiction

“If you care about the general welfare of women, and all people around the world, this book is for you.” There are quite a few gems in this very, very early review of Threadbare from Portland Book Review, and we couldn’t be more excited to read it!

PBR says the work of comics journalism “reads almost like a graphic novel with a loosely connected plot, except it’s non-fiction. … Otherwise, the drawings and the cited research compel the reader to finish this quick read and feel uneasy in his or her very clothes.” The reviewer even concludes (correctly, according to our research) that, “Despite the belief of some people, anti-trafficking efforts make life harder for sex workers.”