When the Chicago-based feminist group Tracers created the art exhibit "Tracers Takes Over," the goal was to get everyone - women and men from all backgrounds - involved in social justice. Tracers was founded by filmmaker and professor Jennifer Reeder, a Columbus native and Ohio State alumna living and working in Chicago, last year after an interaction with her students.
When the Chicago-based feminist group Tracers created the art exhibit “Tracers Takes Over,” the goal was to get everyone — women and men from all backgrounds — involved in social justice. Tracers was founded by filmmaker and professor Jennifer Reeder, a Columbus native and Ohio State alumna living and working in Chicago, last year after an interaction with her students.
“I found it troubling that a lot of my younger students — more female than male — were having a hard time identifying as feminists,” Reeder said during a phone interview. “When I asked them about it, it had a lot to do with the misperception of the meaning of feminism. Somehow there was the idea that you couldn’t be a feminist and wear lipstick, or have a boyfriend. Somehow feminism was equated to some kind of gender inequity — female dominance or male emasculation. I said none of that is true at all. It’s all about human equality, and a way for all sorts of people to realize basic human rights.”
“Tracers Takes Over” uses a combination of information and approachable art to garner interest in the exhibit itself, and events to engage the community. One highlight of the exhibit is an interactive timeline of feminist history that visitors can add to with their own personal events. Another showcases posters from the Gallery Tally Project, a crowd-sourced endeavor started by Los Angeles artist Micol Hebron that allows participants to collect data and make posters about gender inequity in contemporary art galleries. And there’s also a collection of handmade dolls featuring iconic feminists like Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem.
“I was really interested in creating a space for my female and male students to engage in this conversation. The exhibition shows the history; the continuum of struggle [reflecting] on the past,” said OSU art professor Melissa Vogley Woods, co-curator of “Tracers Takes Over” and founder of the Tracers Ohio chapter. “The exhibition is holding the history, but including current times so that you can connect to it. I remember thinking of feminism as this thing from the past. But it’s this continuing [movement].”
Other Tracers-sponsored events also look to engage a wide audience. Beyond the Sept. 4 opening reception, three panel discussions will be held (Feminism on Sept. 11, Race on Sept 18 and LGBTQ on Sept 25), and a Grrrls Rock Columbus show featuring locals The Girls! will take place at Ace of Cups on Sept. 19.
“It’s a really approachable show with a lot of humor and information,” Reeder said. “The projects that we’re doing in association, these panel conversations and rock show, everything that we’re doing is about inclusion and a dedication to listening … and opening a dialog.”