Turn one piece of paper into a BIG call for justice, like the Guerrilla Girls!
Time: 45 minutes
Skill Level: intermediate/advanced
Topic: social justice, graphic design
What does this artwork remind you of? What makes you say that? The bright contrasting colors, shapes, photographs, and words may have reminded you of a magazine cover. As you read the words closely, you’ll discover clues that tell a story. What do you think the story is about? If this artwork were the middle of a story, what might have happened before? What might be about to happen?
In 2007, The Washington Post asked the Guerrilla Girls to design a page for the arts section of the newspaper. They created this poster for the newspaper to expose the fact that many museums in Washington, DC, were not showing art made by women and artists of color. To support this claim, they called out “boy crazy” art museums by showing the percentages of art made by women and artists of color. Simply put, their findings were not reflective of the rich diversity of the United States. In this poster, Guerrilla Girls give some ideas on how to include more artists in the collections of national art museums. What ideas can you find?
This poster now belongs to the Hirshhorn Museum, one of the four museums that is named in the poster for having very few works on view by women and artists of color. Why do you think the museum collected this artwork? Do you think Hirshhorn Museum changed its actions? Why or why not? Thanks to the efforts of the Guerrilla Girls, and many other activists, artists, and people who work in museums, the Hirshhorn Museum and other Smithsonian museums have shown more women and artists of color—but in order to reflect the diversity of the United States today, there is much more work to do!
ABOUT THE GUERRILLA GIRLS
Meet the Guerrilla Girls, a group of disguised, anonymous artists with members from all over the world! Since 1985, the Guerrilla Girls have been protesting racism and sexism in art, politics, and pop culture. Guerrilla sounds like Gorilla, but they’re not the same. Guerrillas are rebels who take disruptive action to share their beliefs. You may have noticed that the Guerrilla Girls like to disguise themselves as … you guessed it, gorillas! They love to use humor to make their points, and they hide their identities so that we pay attention to real issues, and not who they might be. These women don’t monkey around, they demand justice in the artworld by disrupting snazzy museum parties and pasting their savvy posters around cities.
The Guerrilla Girls want to create a more inclusive future for the art world because according to Guerrilla Girl Frida Kahlo (the Guerrilla Girls choose the names of other famous women artists like Kahlo), “Culture is the story of everyone—and how can you really tell the story of a culture when you don’t include all the voices within the culture?—otherwise it’s just the history and the story of power.”
Want to learn more? Meet the Guerrilla Girls at the Hirshhorn!
The Guerrilla Girls use subversive and alternative art like posters, flyers, and pamphlets to unmask inequalities in the art world. Inspired by their outspokenness, we’ll create our own zine (short for magazine) about what justice means to us.
- Gather your materials. For this project you will need one BIG piece of paper (11×17 or bigger), scissors, crayons/markers, paper scraps, found images (magazines and newspapers), and glue.
- What change do you want to see? The Guerrilla Girls focus on creating justice in the art world. Justice means that all people have equal opportunities. In the art world, and the real world, there is still much work to be done to give women and people of color equal opportunity. Think about what justice means to you. What message would you like to share in your zine? For this project, we focused on the importance of kids in museums. Teacher tip: have students write their ideas of sticky notes!
- Folding time. Grab your paper and scissors, and get ready to make your zine with the tutorial below or follow the instructions below. Check out this video tutorial for more details.
- Fold your piece of paper in half. Fold it again into quarters, and then one more time so that it is folded into eighths.
- Open your paper so that it is folded in half. Take your scissors and cut halfway across the middle from the fold. When you open your paper there should be a slit in the middle.
- Fold your paper lengthwise or along the crease that has the slit. Hold the paper on both sides, then push the sides in toward each other. The sections should fold into each other to form your eight page zine!
- Plan your zine. Your zine has a front cover, six inside pages, and a back cover to share your message. What will you fill your zine with? What will best communicate your message? A narrative? A comic strip? Short informational phrases? Just pictures? Write some ideas down and think about how YOU want your zine to look. Teacher Tip: Using sticky notes can help you make a plan, and figure out how to put your ideas in order from cover to cover!
- Time to play! Cut images and words out of magazines and newspapers; or print or draw your own pictures. If you’re using cutouts, make sure you have glue to stick them to your zine. Mess around with your design until you find what you like, then glue all the elements in place.
- Add some personality! Play with colors, balance, contrast, emphasis, and patterns! Add drawings, notes, textures, and make your zine as unique as you! Tip: Get creative! What alternatives or unconventional materials could you use? Express yourself in your own style.
- Spread the word. Zines, like flyers and posters, are easy tools to give a message to many people! You can scan or photocopy your zine and give it to your friends, family and neighbors. You can also take pictures of it and share them that way. There’s no wrong way of sharing!