YWCA's 'The Womanist Movement' Seeks to Bridge the Gap Between White Women and Women of Color

The show will feature nine local women artists

Mar 8, 2019 at 5:24 pm
click to enlarge "Redemption Charcoal" by Yvonne Van Eijden - Provided
"Redemption Charcoal" by Yvonne Van Eijden

Nine Cincinnati-based women artists’ work will be presented via the exhibition The Womanist Movement, opening on International Women’s Day. Helmed by Ricci Michaels, director of the Urban Expression 101 Project, and Ena Nearon Menefield, president of Ten Talents Network, it will mark YWCA’s first art show.

When the duo first got on board with YWCA, Nearon says they found that — through a conversation with Barbara Perez, YWCA Cincinnati's president — their mission ran parallel with the nonprofit’s focus of "eliminating racism and empowering women."

“You’re going to be drawn in by the power of the pieces that you first see when you walk in the door and you’re going to want to ask questions,” Nearon says. “Everyone is not in the same space; not everyone has had the same experiences.”

The exhibit’s namesake can be traced back to writer Alice Walker, who coined the term in 1979 via her short story, "Coming Apart," in which she wrote, “womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.” Since, traditionally, feminism mostly addressed the needs of middle-class white women, womanism emerged as a movement that took racial and class-based oppression into account. In other words: It’s intersectional.

Leading up to the opening, each artist shared their own thoughts on their own lived experiences via short video clips, which can be seen here.

”If you can talk about it, you can resolve it,” Nearon says. “If you don’t talk about it, you’re stuck in your own perspective.” And really, that’s the exhibit’s crux; it seeks to prompt conversation not only through the art itself — which varies in medium and style, from paintings to photography to needlework and sculpture — but through the artists' shared perspectives and experiences. 

As a press release notes, each artist was “invited to examine their own attitudes of entitlement and victimization; each powerful art piece represents an individual choice.”

Artists on display include Yvonne van Eijden, Velma Morris, Mary Barr Rhodes, Cynthia Lockhart, Tina Guiterrez, Edith Sussarret Marrero, Gloria McConnaghy, Jan Wiesner and Gabrielle McFarland. 

The Womanist Movement’s Opening Reception will take place March 8 from 6-8 p.m.; on April 5 from 5-7:30 p.m., the YWCA will host a panel discussion in connection with the gallery. For more info: ywcacincinnati.org