The idea for Feminist Art in the Trump Era emerged during an Axle Contemporary/Axle Art Board meeting. The founders of the mobile artspace, artists Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Wellman, are joined on the Board by three women: Diné curator Andrea Hanley, art researcher Carol Cooper, and me. I joined up a few years ago because I like the idea of art exhibitions coming to the public, in different neighborhoods, each week. Axle’s small van has since traveled all over the state of New Mexico with the E Pluribus Unum exhibition, featuring hundreds of local portraits.
Feminists clearly have multiple axes to grind in the Trump era, which boasts too many misogynist abominations to count. Sixty-seven New Mexico artists responded to Axle’s call, and from their 165 submissions I chose 26 artists. The women (and one man) rose to the occasion in a broad variety of styles and mediums, from pussy hats to conceptual work to artists’ books—some of it mystifyingly unrelated to the show’s subject, others right on. I was surprised that there were so few works on the environment, which I consider a feminist issue. Given COVID restrictions, the van’s interior was out of bounds, so the works were reproduced and glued to the exterior. The show opened without fanfare on September 11th and continues to travel around town until the election.
Last weekend, we were shocked to discover that someone had thrown a rock through one of the back windows and cracked the front windshield while it was parked in a local art district. Axle has been operating in Santa Fe for ten years and had never experienced violence despite a wide range of content in their shows and installations. But these are violent days and attacks on artists now join the attacks on women, immigrants, civil rights, voting rights, and on the lands and creatures suffering from climate chaos and corporate greed, aided and abetted by the Trump administration. (Guess which side I’m on!) The Furies, a feminist collective, offered a series of photographs of a Trump Piñata being destroyed by an angry nude woman. And on the hood of the van is Nika Feldman’s emblematic piece that I first saw in a Women’s March last winter. It reads “We are the Grand-daughters of All the Witches You Were Never Able to Burn.”
I’m pleased that the journal is interested in this, not only because of my ties to Maine but also in honor of the exemplary art activism in the state, which serves as a model for the rest of us.
–Lucy R. Lippard, Galisteo, New Mexico, juror of Feminist Art in the Trump Era.
Image at top: Nika Feldman, Protest Patch, silkscreen, appliqué, embroidery, 12 x 12 in.