Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kathe Kollwitz, a founding member of feminist art collective The Guerilla Girls

Kathe Kollwitz

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Guerrilla Girl Kathe Kollwitz in Bilbao, 2013. Photo by Guerrilla Girls, courtesy guerrillagirls.com

A conversation with a founding member of feminist art collective The Guerrilla Girls

If you go to an art museum: contemporary, encyclopedic, local – odds are most of the art displayed was made by white men. Even if you leave out the renaissance painters and the Dutch Masters. It's still not that common to see a solo show by a woman or a person of color these days. This was even more true in the mid-80's. Some of New York's most prominent galleries showed less than 10% of women artists. Others were showing no women created art at all.

In 1984, a group of women started an art collective called The Guerrilla Girls. The group was created in response to the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition: "An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture." The exhibits roster of 165 artists only included 13 women. The number of artists of color was even smaller, and none of them were women.

They decided the best way to fight discrimination in the art world was to make art about the discrimination. They took the art to the streets. They pasted it onto the walls all over lower Manhattan. The group demonstrated in front of the museum with placards and picket lines. And they wore gorilla masks while doing it.

The Guerrilla Girls drew attention to issues of discrimination and representation in galleries and museums all over the world. They have entered their third decade as a collective, morphing in membership as the time went on. They still make art for the streets but have also shown in galleries and museums, too.

Jesse talks to a founding member of The Guerrilla Girls, who goes by Kathe Kollwitz. She'll reflect on the origins of the group, her anonymity in the art world and what the group means now more than 30 years later.

You can learn more about The Guerrilla Girls by visiting their website.