Like so many, Roxanne Jackson was feeling “shocked and defeated” in the aftermath of the presidential election. But when the Bushwick-based ceramic artist attended a protest at Trump Tower that Saturday, marching alongside friends and fellow New York-based artists and curators, like Jessamyn Fiore and Angel Bellaran, she felt inspired to organize, rather than agonize.
“It planted the seed by giving me the motivation to be active,” she explains. “Being active in that march made me feel a lot more positive, and that would be something that could get me through the reality of a Trump presidency.”
The following Monday morning, she posted on Facebook, “Hello female artists/curators! Lets organize a NASTY WOMEN group show!!! Who’s interested???” then logged off to teach a ceramics class. When she checked back hours later, she found an overwhelming number of responses from artists excited to get involved.
She soon connected with Fiore, who would co-direct the show, and Bellaran, who would serve as curatorial advisor. They formed a Nasty Women team of organizers and put out a call for submissions. They agreed not to turn any artists away. The only requirements would be that works come from “self-identifying Nasty Women”; that they not exceed 12 inches in any direction; and that they be priced at $100 or less, with 100 percent of all purchases benefitting Planned Parenthood.
Fiore, who serves on the Knockdown Center’s curatorial advisory board, brought the idea to the venue’s co-director Michael Merk, who was immediately sold. “Our scale and the fluidity of our programming is designed for projects just like these — multi-faceted and far-reaching programs that defy disciplinary boundaries and engage diverse communities,” Merk says.
To accommodate the massive outpouring of artwork, which numbers between 700 and 1,000 pieces, Jackson and her team devised an exhibition plan, which is an artistic feat in itself: All pieces will be displayed on or inside 10-foot tall, freestanding 3D hot pink letters which spell out “Nasty Women”—an all volunteer-built, Nasty Women monument, in effect. Externally, the works will be hung on durable mesh, with additional pieces lining the structure’s internal shelves.
The exhibition is “cash and carry”, with attendees able to purchase a piece (with a maximum of five per person) and literally take it off the letter that night. Although the exhibition runs through Sunday night, ideally, the letters will be stripped bare by the end of opening night, says Jackson. “[That would] be a testament to the amount of money that’s been raised for Planned Parenthood,” she explains. “If the show is nacked letters [for the remaining nights], so be it! It will still be a monumental display.”
This exhibition is just the beginning. At the time Jackson spoke with us, 27 Nasty Women exhibitions were confirmed in cities worldwide, from Phoenix, Arizona to Brussels, Belgium. Those interested in organizing their own Nasty Women Art Show should visit the“Other Nasty venues”page on the website, Jackson says. There, they can view the (minimal) guidelines, which stipulate that organizers use the “Nasty Women” name, include a diverse group of female-identifying artists (though men are also welcome), and serve as a fundraiser for women’s rights organizations. Jackson encourages artists to apply, as several upcoming exhibitions are still accepting submissions.
Through the duration of the New York show, the Knockdown Center will keep the momentum going with Stay Nasty: four days of music, comedy and workshops in keeping with Nasty Women theme, with ticket sales benefitting progressive organizations like Callen-Lorde Community Health Center and the New York Immigration Coalition.
If you go
Nasty Women Art Exhibition
Opening reception Thursday, Jan. 12, 7- 10 p.m.
Friday, 5-9 p.m.,Saturday, 2-8 p.m.,Sunday 2-6 p.m.
52-19 Flushing Ave.