Nasty Women Art Exhibit opens downtown, showcasing local work

More than 50 pieces of art were on display opening night.
Artist Tory Kassabaum’s three pieces, “The Balancer,” The Weight of the World” and “Bloody Hands” are displayed in the ARTlandish Gallery as part of the Nasty Women Art Exhibit. “The dots are the weight women bear, and the hands are the blood women have borne over the years,” Kassabaum said.

The Catacombs beneath ARTlandish Gallery came alive Friday night.

Columbia’s Nasty Women Art Exhibit opened amidst First Friday and Lovefest, and the whole area was packed with people. There were various artist stalls throughout the Catacombs, a space in the basement of the ARTlandish Gallery, including a whole room dedicated to the Nasty Women Art Exhibit. Most of the time, you had to gently elbow your way or tap someone on the shoulder to get through.

The Nasty Women Art Exhibit is run by the recently formed group Artists for Social Justice. They aim to put on at least four events per year, the proceeds of which will benefit a different organization each time. Proceeds from this art exhibit will go directly to Columbia’s Planned Parenthood.

There were 51 entered pieces at the start of the show, and as the current art is purchased, event organizers hope others will bring in more pieces throughout the month. Some pieces, like a few nature scenes, did not have overt feminist or political themes, but many did. Pieces were priced and named by their artists.

One, with its card reading “Untitled,” is a sculpture of a woman’s chest, post-mastectomy.

“It was something I had in the back of my mind since I had a mastectomy in 2000,” artist Jacque Pepper said. “Almost 15 years later, [the sculpture] just kind of happened. It surprised me how easily it progressed when I had never made anything like it before. The process was very therapeutic.”

Pepper has displayed this piece in public before, at the Columbia Art League. The exhibit was then titled “Please Don’t Touch,” but now Pepper titled the sculpture “Please Touch.”

“It worked out just right to put it in here because Planned Parenthood does free breast screenings,” Pepper said.

Pepper’s piece was unsold as of the first night of the show.

Artist Suzanne VanSickle also created various pieces of clothing for the exhibit. There were four “pussyhats,” the pink, knitted hats with cat ears started by an online project and ubiquitous at the Women’s March on Washington. They were various shades of pink, and a couple had the female symbol stitched on them. Each was priced at $10.

Another piece was titled “Lady Power Va-Gorts,” and as you may have guessed, it was a pair of shorts with a vagina stitched over the crotch and the word “power” above it.

“The Cat Tugger” was one of the more cynical pieces in the exhibit, depicting Donald Trump dragging a cat behind him in reference to a soundbite of Trump in 2005 saying how he can “grab [women] by the pussy.”

“It was a knee-jerk reaction to the way he treats women,” artist Harrison Bergeron said. “I just wanted to do something. It’s a reactionary piece, really.”

Artist Tory Kassabaum was inspired after the election to create art symbolizing the power of women. She has three pieces in the exhibit, titled “The Balancer,” “The Weight of the World” and “Bloody Hands.”

Each piece shows a woman with red handprints over her and a balance with dots extending in rays on top of her head.

“I think women are the balancers of the world; they bring balance to the world,” Kassabaum said. “The dots are the weight women bear, and the hands are the blood women have borne over the years.”

Each piece is $30 and are unsold as of now.

Hanging on one wall of the exhibit room was a window frame with pieces of glass set in a pattern, titled “The Crucible Calls Me to Rise.”

“I thought of the crucible as being the melting pot, but also the times we are in, because it has that double meaning,” artist Gennie Pfannenstiel said.

Pfannenstiel said she creates her art by putting together pieces of glass she has collected. In the middle of the window, there is a small, black-and-white piece of glass with a woman sitting in a chair on it.

“She kept coming back to me,” Pfannenstiel said.

Besides the artwork, musicians played around the Catacombs, poets from the spoken word poetry group One Mic performed, and pop-up bake sale Baked Revolution sold cookies and pastries.

“This is actually our first event,” Baked Revolution founder Laura Clothier said. “I bake just for fun, not professionally.”

The proceeds from this bake sale will be donated to the ACLU. Clothier and Julie Nardy of Baked Revolution plan to do another event sometime in April. Proceeds from that will go to a different organization.

Though opening night is over, it’s not too late to view, purchase or submit art to the exhibit. Find the Nasty Women Art Exhibit at ARTlandish Gallery from now until March 3.

Edited by Katherine White |

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