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A Must-See Exhibit Honors Black Women’s Resistance Art

“We Wanted A Revolution” features staggering works by household names like Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, and Emma Amos

In 1970, the artist Faith Ringgold, alongside her daughter, writer Michele Wallace, and a New York-based artist-activist group successfully pressured the Whitney Museum of American Art to include Betye Saar and Barbara Chase-Riboud in that year’s Sculpture Annual—the first two black women artists to ever show at the prestigious institution. How did they do it? With well-placed cracked egg traps and tampons inscribed with “50%” scattered around the museum, a perfectly irritating reminder to curators of their demand: that half of the artists at the show be women. “The Whitney Museum became the focus of our attention. We went there often to deposit eggs. Unsuspecting male curatorial staff would pick up the eggs and experience the shock of having raw egg slide down the pants of their fine tailor-made suits,” Ringgold wrote in her 2005 memoir, recalling their performative tactics.

A new show at the Brooklyn Museum, “We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85” offers a rare glimpse of this moment in time, when the Black Arts Movement dovetailed with the women’s liberation movement. One of the exhibition’s anchor images, a photograph taken by artist Jan van Raay of one of their protests, shows a fresh-faced Wallace mid-chant, holding a sign that reads “50% Black Women Artists” and marching alongside her mother outside of the Whitney. It’s a striking record, not only of the artmaking of the time, but of the struggle for creative self-determination that black women artists were challenged with, an issue they still face today.


Jan van Raay (American, born 1942). Faith Ringgold (right) and Michele Wallace (middle) at Art Workers Coalition Protest, Whitney Museum, 1971. Digital C-print. Courtesy of Jan van Raay, Portland, OR, 305-37. © Jan van Raay

Curators Catherine Morris and Rujeko Hockley painstakingly assembled “We Wanted A Revolution” over the course of three years, resulting in a timely collection that centers radical resistance and pays particular attention to intersections of the personal and political, private, and public that black feminists and allies were forced to navigate during the second wave of feminism. The collection is incredibly expansive, spanning many mediums, two decades, and the work of 40 artists. It’s a rare compendium of black women artists, including the work of Ringgold, Saar, and Chase-Riboud, as well as that of Dindga McCannon, Emma Amos, and Lorna Simpson—names which now signify greatness, but belong to women who had to fight their way into the room, sometimes using eggs as weapons.

Carrie Mae Weems seminal photo series “Family Pictures and Stories,1978-1984” illustrates these tensions in a neat microcosm of the entire exhibition. The photo series, a depiction of the artist’s home life in Portland, Oregon, was conceived as a direct response to the Moynihan Report, a controversial 1965 policy paper that suggested black American families were dysfunctional and unable to contribute to wider society because black women were deviant in the home.

Faith Ringgold (American, born 1930). For the Women’s House, 1971. Oil on canvas, 96 x 96 inches (243.8 x 243.8 cm). Courtesy of Rose M. Singer Center, Rikers Island Correctional Center. © 2017 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Other memorable pieces include Ringgold’s rarely seen “For the Women’s House,” a work which the artist dedicated to women incarcerated on Rikers Island. The painting was truly made for the women, as Ringgold had asked them what they would like to see—what would sustain their spirits behind bars and what they would like to do once they were freed. The result is a dreamy collage of women in powerful stances, occupying roles that were rare for women to hold then: a doctor, a police officer, a construction worker, an athlete. Here, Ringgold’s idea of “freedom” extends beyond the prison which restrained her subjects, reaching out to all women seeking liberation from confines far less tangible than prison walls. Another particularly affecting piece is Howardena Pindell’s experimental video work, “Free, White, and 21.” In it, the artist details racism she has experienced and has overcome throughout her life. She then dons a blonde wig, assuming the position of an unsympathetic white woman listening to her complaints. The video functions as both confessional and critique; at one point, the artist wraps her head in white gauze suggesting the strictures of the white gaze.

Howardena Pindell (American, born 1930). Still from “Free, White and 21,” 1980. Video, 12 min.,15 sec. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York. © Howardena Pindell

That artmaking was necessarily political in a time of such tumult should not come as a surprise, and neither should the fact that the artists were successful against all odds. The lesson contained here: If there was not a way, these women would make one.

We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85” is on view at the Brooklyn Museum through September 17, 2017.

Articles

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

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The Planet