Women to the Front: Perspectives on Equality, Gender, and Activism Favorite 


Mar 16 2020


Salt Lake City UT

Women to the Front: Perspectives on Equality, Gender, and Activism is an exhibit that showcases 15 female artists with ties to Utah who infuse their art with activism. The exhibit commemorates the centennial of the 19th Amendment and the 150th anniversary of the first vote cast by a woman in Utah. The title draws upon invitations issued by punk musicians to create a safe space directly in front of concert stages for female fans during the early 1990s Riot Grrrl movement.

The exhibit explores themes such as equality, gender, identity and social justice through a variety of artistic media, including photography, painting, drawing, fiber arts, installations and performances. The curators, Nancy Rivera and Scotty Hill, asked Utah artists what themes from the suffrage movement are still relevant in their work. They also aimed to spotlight diversity in the artists' backgrounds and perspectives.

Some artists featured in the exhibit are:

- Fazilat Soukhakian: An Iranian photographer who documents the lives and struggles of LGBTQ+ individuals in Utah. Her series "Queer in Utah" depicts gay and lesbian couples in poses inspired by classic paintings and sculptures. She wants to show their affection, love and bravery in a conservative culture¹.
- Denae Shanidiin: A Korean-Dine’ photographer who makes art out of activism. Her series "I Honor You" honors missing and murdered indigenous women through portraits of their relatives and belongings. She also incorporates traditional elements such as corn pollen and red handprints to symbolize life and death.
- Marcela Torres: A performance artist who uses her body, sound and fighting techniques to address the violence directed toward minorities and people of color. Her work "Agentic Mode" involves her wearing protective gear and hitting a punching bag while narrating stories of trauma and resilience. She wants to create an experiential storytelling that makes people understand and care more about each other culturally.
- Lindsay Frei: A painter who explores the role of women in history and society. Her series "The First Ladies" reimagines the portraits of U.S. presidents' wives as powerful and independent figures. She uses bright colors, geometric shapes and symbolic objects to challenge the stereotypes and expectations of femininity.

Women to the Front is an exhibit that celebrates the achievements and contributions of women artists in Utah, as well as their ongoing efforts to advocate for change and justice. The exhibit invites viewers to reflect on the past, present and future of women's rights and representation.

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