EWU Women’s Center Hosts International Women’s Day
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Interdisciplinary artist and political activist Favianna Rodriguez hosted a workshop, Reproduce & Revolt, in conjunction with the EWU Women’s Center March 3, cor International Women’s Day (IWD).
IWD is a worldwide event held on March 8 that “is a celebration of women of every background and all walks of life,” according to a press release issued by the EWU Women’s Studies Center.
The two-hour workshop session featured a short introduction lecture by Rodriquez where she shared her personal history in art and activism and some of the posters she has created though her career to help illustrate the importance of strong imagery in political posters.
“Migration is Beautiful,” a poster that featured two faces in the wings of a monarch butterfly, to symbolize the beauty found in the migration of animals, “Tu Lucha, es Mi Lucha,” or “my struggle is your struggle,” which featured female figures interacting and creating growth and the text-heavy “Sluts for Open Borders” that implied solidarity between “sluts” and migrants, were some of the posters included in Rodriguez’s lecture.
Rodriguez’s lecture and workshop centered primarily on creating art to normalize the narratives of human experiences that are not often see in mainstream culture and how individuals should advocate to make those narratives heard through art.
She used the example of current U.S. President Donald Trump and his 2016 campaign promise of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as a way to address the way different types of mainstream narratives that are normalized in the United States.
“When 45 [Donald Trump] was talking about building a wall … we already have a wall that’s three layers deep,” said Rodriguez. “You can’t get through that wall, we don’t need to build another wall. But just by saying that, it’s like he’s creating an idea or a narrative that people really respond to, but it’s not real. So much of what 45 says is not based in fact, but it becomes normalized.”
Rodriguez then went on to talk about the normalization of both progressive values and the experiences of both people of color and other diverse groups.
“I think black and brown people, disabled people, queer folks … we’re forced into these tropes or very two dimensional ways of being, but on the contrary, white people can be astronauts, they can fall in love with a computer, they can fight a dragon … they can do whatever they want,” said Rodriguez. “Why don’t we see more people of color in those roles. It’s like when we think of human beings and human experiences, why don’t we get those views presented back to us in a way that is diverse?”
EWU junior Mayra Garcia, an attendee of the workshop, said the presentation of Rodriguez’s past art was one of her favorite parts of the workshop.
“It was amazing to have a Latina speaker, you don’t get very many of those,” Garcia said.
Garcia said she was also inspired by Rodriguez’s talks and learned how to better advocate for women in society.
After the lecture that helped students understand the components of making a powerful poster, Rodriquez invited students to use the materials provided, such as printouts of unity fists, a radio tower with the words “free speech” printed across the page and human faces from Rodriguez’s book, “Reproduce & Revolt,” as well as markers and colored cardstock, to create a poster with a message that is meaningful to them or a cause that they care about.
Students were then given 10 minutes to sort through the images and choose an idea that would then become their final poster. Thirty minutes was alotted to work on the idea before the group reconvened to share their posters.
EWU junior Monique Gil, who also attended the workshop, agreed with Garcia about learning to advocate for women.
“Hearing [Rodriguez] speak got me all fired up,” said Gil. “I just feel like there’s many different ways to advocate; this was a good way to learn to advocate because art is powerful.”
In total, 28 EWU students and community members attended the workshop. Poster themes ranged from dealing with equality, to freedom of speech and expression, and the concept of intersectional identity and the struggles associated with those interconnected identities.