Flagstaff Feminist Art Studio
feminist art . "the personal is political" . feminist mantra . feminist theory
The impetus behind feminist art is to transform pressing social and environmental issues into hopeful, solution-based educational content that drives action and positive change. Currently led by artist Rhonda Urdang, Flagstaff Feminist Art Studio engages where there's a pressing need for awareness and hope, when public engagement and good timing can make all the difference, so that knowledge can truly be the spark that moves people to act. FFAS is committed to building upon the Black and Brown Lives Matter movement by amplifying cross-cultural voices through a lens of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Against all odds, womyn's stories prevail -- despite erasure.
My work concerns itself with the collective unconscious. As a feminist artist living and working at 7,000 feet near the sacred San Francisco Peaks in Northern Arizona, icons are very much a part of my daily life. The revered sciences of antiquity were recorded in secular and religious symbols that sum up certain esoteric principles and therefore form layers of fabrications and enigmatic language. Most cryptograms condense a multitude of meanings into one entity and can be interpreted in a cosmic or human sense. Obscure dreams or nightmares of past, present, and beyond often have no key and can be arduous to unravel. More recently, I've explored the aristocracy, multi-ethnic, bi-racial, Afropunk identities of London & Paris and racial dynamics in intersectional culture -- in a subconscious effort to bring about reparative justice and collective healing. I'm interested in making contemporary art that challenges the narrative. I want to discover how art can be used to envision new forms of race and representation freed from the bounds of historic racial constraints. Many of my hybrid works are drawn from existing imagery or archival research in response to art history/ herstory. I've encouraged myself to think about my re-imagined portraiture's potential to engage with the social and political landscape of our time -- and have been resolutely dedicated to gender equity and feminist discourse in an attempt to challenge perception and possibly inspire social change. With the plague of gun violence and police brutality on the streets of America, my transformative re-imagined works are often manifestations of my survival as an artist and a peaceful citizen, as our nation has increasingly been in mourning & protest over loss of human life. The feminist art movement has argued that re-appropriation, re-signification, or reclamation is a cross-cultural process by which marginalized individuals can reclaim artifacts or images that were previously used in a disparaging manner -- and uplift them in a way that brings about socio-economic empowerment for under-appreciated, under-represented, and under-valued womyn, wimmin, and womxn in the visual arts. We are all the heroines of our own collective memory. -- RHONDA URDANG 6/21/2021
RHONDA URDANG (nee Thomas, US, b. NE) has been making and exhibiting her work since 1970. She has had a varied and interesting career; she has worked as a type setter, museum gallery attendant, apprentice dot etcher, and journeyman color separation artist on high-fashion catalogs in the graphic arts industry in Omaha and Phoenix. Since leaving academia, the patriarchy, and pseudoscience behind (some things are folktales or misbelief), her ingenuity has flourished. Her visionary artwork responds to historical and world events, when painting and the female artist are still being diminished, silenced, marginalized, and erased. Human, civil, and worker's rights have been important social issues for her early on. Since founding Flagstaff Feminist Art Studio in mid-summer 2014, she has worked primarily in multiple disciplines including femmage, assemblage, book art, mixed media collage, digital manipulation, painting and satire. She gains visual pleasure from unraveling the feminine mystique while peeling away layers of buried eidetic memory in her innovative art practice. The loveliness of the moon has inspired all of humankind since the beginning of time -- especially the magical night sky which rhapsodizes our stellar sisterhood. The artist is somewhat more herself in her sleep when her body is in a state of slumber when hybrid images and illusions are formed. She has lived in Northern Arizona for 3 decades. Her work is informed by the people, place, and color palette of her surroundings and by her personal life experiences -- arising from what remained of the char. Some womyn are lost in the fire while others are built from it. The struggles for freedom & human dignity along the way were meant to shape her for her purpose: to look at the world through the female gaze.