Welcome guest blogger Alyssa Stone ‘ 22! Alyssa has worked with the Cantor as a Gallery Assistant, and has been working as a Research Assistant during the 2020-21 academic year.
Hi, I’m Alyssa. I’m a junior psychology and self-designed peace and conflicts major. I’m a maker myself and have always been interested in artistic processes. This is why I work the Cantor Gallery, even though it may not seem to intersect with my academic endeavors. Typically, I get a front-row seat at the gallery shows, but unfortunately this year COVID-19 had other plans. Instead, I have been able to work as a remote gallery assistant, helping to research and curate the show 10 x 10 (Ten Women: Ten Prints) with gallery staff Paula Rosenblum and Meredith Fluke. This specific project means a lot to me because it was put together in 1995 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United States’ adoption of the 19th amendment, which allowed women the right to vote. In addition, social justice issues like these are an encompassing passion of mine.
This exhibit includes the work of ten women artists, who themselves display the beauty of racial and ethnic diversity within the United States and across the globe. Each woman represents a different life path, as well as some of the many challenges women face domestically and internationally. The prints foster discussion about many of the struggles women face both publicly and privately – in their individual lives or their communities. They bring attention to these collective experiences, portraying them in ways that show their strength through vulnerability.
Many of these works interested me due to their foundations in conflict and immigration, given my academic pursuits in PCON studies, and my hopes of becoming an immigration lawyer. Claudia Bernardi’s piece, Ser Mujer Es Saber Resistir, caught my eye as it directly correlated with my studies. I wrote a research paper about the atrocities committed during the Argentine Dirty War, so I was familiar with the subject matter, but Bernardi’s approach made what I knew all the more human. It reminded me that even though this portfolio is celebrating the achievement of women’s suffrage (now a little more than 100 years ago), America has also created painful conditions for women all over the world. Similarly, Homenaje a Dolores Huerta from Women’s Work is Never Done by Yolanda Lopez reflects on the silenced experience of Mexican and Mexican-American women, who have been exploited through agricultural work. The themes of these artworks address only immigrant women or women affected by US foreign affairs, but also basic issues and hardships that are applicable to the lives of many women and their experiences.
As I researched each of these prints and their makers, I felt even more connected to the artists and their messages than I did before I was offered this opportunity. Like myself and other women, these artists and incredible multi-dimensional. They are not just makers; each artist draws from her personal identity to portray a part of the female experience. These images illuminate the stories of women who might have been marginalized in beautiful and powerful ways, hopefully furthering the discussions surrounding these issues.
In my life, I try to participate in dialogue that will bring about change. Whether the change is within myself or the world varies, but it is always impactful. The art in the 10 x 10 portfolio is beautiful, but like all difficult dialogue, it is sometimes uncomfortable. I think that, while people have different levels of tolerance for discomfort, works made by passionate and inspiring artists make discomfort easier. The beauty of these prints is that they allow the audience to lean in, and to understand the artist through their own lens. I hope that this exhibition allows others to embrace these experiences as I have, and leaves them with a pang of discomfort and curiosity, as it did for me.
Alyssa Stone is a psychology and peace and conflict studies double major, with an interested in rhetoric and composition. She is passionate about social justice and change, and hopes to continue pursuing her interests in law or nonprofit work in the future. At Holy Cross, Alyssa serves as a mentor for first-year students and writing consultant in the Writer’s Workshop.