Dolls of Dissent
Boston-area artist Kimberly Becker 90 TX pledges to make one rag doll every day until Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is impeached.
Women across the country and around the world wrung their hands in frustration as more and more silent victims of sexual assault found their voices with help from the #MeToo movement and then again when Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct. But textiles artist Kimberly Becker 90 TX has better things to do with her hands.
Ever since Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Becker has been creating “a doll a day” in protest and pledges to keep going until the day he is impeached. The Boston-area artist is also telling women’s stories of marginalization via her House Dresses project and speaking out in support of a woman’s right to choose abortion via Roe House Dresses. Each dress features a painting of a woman’s house on the front and her story embroidered on the back.
“The Roe House Dresses tell stories shared with me by women who have lived in a world where autonomy and the right to have an abortion were the law,” Becker explains—“women who have benefitted from Roe vs Wade. Using paint and brush and needle and thread, I am telling their stories.”
Becker is also curating a feminist, three-woman show that will be on view at the Cambridge [MA] Art Association for the month of April. Keeping Count will feature her sheer, voyeuristic house dresses along with larger-than-life woodblock prints by Elena Brunner of men in riot gear and A Seat at the Table, a collection of tiny, soft-stitched chairs by Michele Fandel Bonner representing each new female member of US Congress.
A related show Becker curated last year, A Woman’s Place at Boston-area Belmont Gallery of Art, was well received and glowingly reviewed. Featuring the work of 15 women artists (including both Brunner and Bonner) and opening almost exactly one year after the massive Women’s March of 2017, the exhibition explored how both sexism and feminism shape the lives of women.
“I hope that when people see what we’ve created, they feel the weight of being born female in the 21st century,” Becker told a Boston Globe reporter at the show’s opening. “My dresses started around the time [Trump’s] administration was being put together, when I first felt this urgency to give women a voice.”
The stories told in both exhibitions may be painful to read and observe, says Becker, but they provide an unflinching look at the female experience. “I think many women visitors to the show will see a part of themselves reflected in the work,” she says.
Brown/RISD dual degree student Nadia Wolff BRDD 21 TX considers how religion relates to race, sexuality and global colonization.
Textiles faculty member Gina Gregorio 92 TX creates wearables with a message for the Women’s March on Washington.
At a talk co-sponsored by RISD and Brown, #MeToo movement leader Tarana Burke inspired students through her personal history of advocacy.