Artistic Response to A.I.R. Gallery

Yvonne Shortt became a member of A.I.R. Gallery in January 2021. A.I.R. Gallery is the first all-female artists' collective gallery in the United States founded in 1972.  Ms. Shortt is the co-founder of A.I.R.'s Research and Development Committee with Daria Dorosh (founding member of A.I.R. Gallery).  The committee's mission is to create, prototype, and implement new artist frameworks. The goal of the committee is to obliterate the scarcity mindset and patriarchal systems through the empowerment of artists.

Ms.Shortt is currently working on a project focused on artistically responding to the challenges she has faced as an African American woman at A.I.R. Gallery, a collective of mostly white women.  She is using this response to seek truthful communication and respect.

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Some feminist Collective(s)

You bind my hands.
You quote process and procedure.
You dictate my materials.
You quote process and procedure.
You cut my hair.
You quote process and procedure.
You squash my ideas
You quote process and procedure.

Like the dust I become, I rise.


Artistic Response
Organism 51: Some Feminist Collective(s)

Medium: Rope, Beeswax, artist's hair, Cotton, Twine from harvested milkweed, Organza

"I’ve been thinking is it possible for a black woman to be ‘really in’ a majority white collective of women who classify themselves as ‘feminist’ with almost a 50 year history of very few black members?

Processing
A Caucasian woman artist in the collective immediately thought of lynching (Not something I was exploring in my work) when she heard I was using ropes and branches. For the next 5 minutes in a meeting with 7 people, the boundaries were overstepped continually oozing white privilege and a complete disregard for black bodies and black history.

The cavalier way in which the lynching word was used, the continued questioning of my material usage, white woman translating, and white woman-splaining have led to artistic flow as a way for me to process and respond to the behavior within my gallery family. Has anything really changed since Howardena?

I will be using artistic flow to process and respond to what my experience within this space over 10 months is bringing to the surface; everything from acts of kindness to unintentional/intentional behaviors rooted in colonialism and a scarcity mindset."

Meeting Response Artistic Flow
Organism 155 Plymouth: Material Usage Study #1 - Swing Wound

Medium: Rope, Branch, Cotton, Wood, Thread, Artist's Hair

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"I started this material study when a member of my collective used the word lynching when she heard I was using rope and branches. My work was nothing about this subject as I explained for several minutes.

I wondered if I wasn’t black would she have said these words? I wondered were she black would she have said those words? And, there was also the condescending tone she used, the request FOR ME to use different materials (she never saw the work), and her ignorance on the subject of my work which was fine as long as she wasn’t asking me to change my materials.

I am reminded of Howardena Pindell and her video art piece ‘Free White and 21‘ in 1980 about the same collective I find myself a part of in 2021.

Lynching is a powerful word.

I am meditating on this trauma, my ancestors, white feminist collectives, and their disregard/erasure in some instances for black bodies and black voices - as I study this material (rope).

Artistic Response
You squash my ideas
You quote process and procedure.

Like the dust I become, I rise."