By Melissa Vasquez | Photos by Rebecca Noble
Tucson’s Nasty Women Exhibit, which took place on April 14 and 15, rose to show support for Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights in a time where the current administration seeks to defund Planned Parenthood. Artists donated submissions to be displayed and made available for purchase, of which all proceeds were directed towards Planned Parenthood Arizona.
Planned Parenthood, according to their website, provides reproductive health care, women’s health services, men’s health services and some more general health services. Some condemn Planned Parenthood based mostly on the abortion services they offer, while others defend Planned Parenthood because they believe the services it provides are strongly tied to women’s rights.
The exhibit featured art themed around women and politics. Some pieces celebrated sexuality while others illustrated artists’ feelings about politics and President Trump. Event attendees admired and purchased art, enjoyed food and beer, listened to the live bands and engaged in constructive dialogue regarding Planned Parenthood and its mission.
Satirical art depicting President Donald Trump crowds the walls during the Nasty Women Exhibit at Borderlands Brewing Company on Saturday, April 15, 2017. Hundreds of pieces of donated art were sold to thousands of Tucsonans with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit Planned Parenthood.
The Nasty Women Exhibit in Tucson came to fruition when the executive producer of the event, Katya Karankevich, was inspired by the Nasty Women Exhibition in New York for the benefit of their own local Planned Parenthood center.
At first, Karankevich wanted to create some art for fun and submit it to a Nasty Woman exhibit, but when she found out that the submissions were closed for the Phoenix exhibit, she figured she would open one in Tucson.
Executive director Katya Karankevich tends to last minute details before the second night of the Nasty Women Exhibit at Borderlands Brewing Company on Saturday, April 15, 2017. Hundreds of pieces of donated art were sold to thousands of Tucsonans with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit Planned Parenthood.
“I was just so upset by the election results and what that would do for reproductive rights and funding for health clinics that I had to do something about it, so that’s why I decided to do this,” she said.
Karankevich, who said her background is in marketing and chemistry, said she didn’t have experience as a curator, director or producer, but still went for it because she felt passionate about reproductive rights. She felt that there was a need to show support for it in this way.
She started asking for submissions online and through social media, hoping for the best.
“Let’s see what the internet does to it,” she said about putting it together in the beginning.
She subsequently joined forces with Svitlana Malyukova, who spread the word and would end up being the curator of the show.
Karankevich said they started promoting the show online and posted flyers all over town, garnering more and more attention.
“Submissions started pouring in, people started contacting us on Facebook, through the website, through our email, wanting to know how they can get involved,” she said. “Our expectations were exceeded.”
A knitted uterus on display during the Nasty Women Exhibit at Borderlands Brewing Company on Saturday, April 15, 2017. Hundreds of pieces of donated art were sold to thousands of Tucsonans with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit Planned Parenthood.
Malyukova curated this show because she loves Planned Parenthood and felt that the Nasty Women exhibit expresses that love.
She said she has been to Planned Parenthood many times in the past 10 years and none of those visits were for abortion— there are a variety of services the public can receive there.
Malyukova is against Trump’s wishes to defund Planned Parenthood.
“I believe he should leave them alone, because we love [Planned Parenthood] and we need them,” Malyukova said. “Not just love, but need Planned Parenthood. I personally need Planned Parenthood in my life. And everybody else needs them, but I can only speak for myself.”
Planned Parenthood Arizona was present at the event and received the donations for the artwork purchased along with lots of support.
Edna Meza Aguirre, the regional associate development director of Planned Parenthood Arizona, was ecstatic about the event and everything it stood for. She said it sends a message of the strength for Planned Parenthood and that they’re not going anywhere.
“I believe he should leave them alone, because we love [Planned Parenthood] and we need them,” Malyukova said.
“For individuals who might think ‘Oh my god, poor Planned Parenthood,’ let me make this clear: we are very proud to keep our doors open,” Meza Aguirre said. “We have every intention to continue to keep our doors open. And we will continue to work with community collaborators who believe in our work so we can serve our patients.”
She also said Planned Parenthood plans to stay strong despite President Trump’s intent to defund it.
Many of the artists who submitted to the exhibit felt strongly about Planned Parenthood and reproductive health and wanted to help in the way they knew best: by creating art.
Attendees observe the "Boobs of All Kind" cotton embroidery piece during the Nasty Women Exhibit at Borderlands Brewing Company on Friday, April 14, 2017. Hundreds of pieces of donated art were sold to thousands of Tucsonans with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit Planned Parenthood.
Lisa Polito, one of the attendees at the Nasty Women Exhibition, was there because she wanted to see the art and its expression in action.
“I came to see the artwork that is in resistance to the Trump administration, and I think art is one of the most expressive ways that we can express our resistance to politics,” she said.
She said the election results of 2016 were nightmarish.
“Words fail me,” Polito said. “It’s devastating to women’s rights, and Trump’s attitude towards reproductive rights is taking us back to the 19th century. It’s eroding the value of women in our culture and the autonomy that women have fought so long and hard to achieve.”
Polito said events like these where you can see art about sexuality, gender and politics is helpful for younger generations of women because it opens their eyes to the reality of misogyny.
“I think art is one of the most expressive ways that we can express our resistance to politics.”
“I think that younger generations of women has, up until the Trump administration, taken for granted women’s rights and a sense of feminist equality, and under the Trump administration, all of those illusions are being violently ripped away,” Polito said. “The reality that women are not equal and haven’t been equal, [and] are now being made less equal, is being put right in your face.”
Sean Murphy, one of the featured artists, is a physician who stands for the message of the Nasty Women Exhibition and supports both women’s rights and reproductive rights. He also believes that men should support feminism because it benefits everyone.
“I think that women’s health is a sensitive issue that should be left between physicians—I am a physician—and patients,” Murphy said. “I don’t think Trump or anyone in the government has the training or the understanding of what it means to deliver health care.”
He said events like this are good for setting society in the right direction, as well as supporting Planned Parenthood and art.
“But most importantly, the fact that that [this event] can raise the money for Planned Parenthood is so essential for people and women in Tucson, and whatever people can do to make that happen, whether [through] shock value or beautiful art, I say is awesome,” Murphy said.
Jasmine Upton, a young feminist artist who donated 10 pieces of her art to the exhibition, said she was very excited when she found out about the event, especially when she learned that all of the proceeds are going to Planned Parenthood.
Claire Lamneck peruses the show during the Nasty Women Exhibit at Borderlands Brewing Company on Friday, April 14, 2017. Lamneck came out to support her three friends who donated works to the show.
“It is really important for our community to get together, and with [Trump] defunding us, I think that it’s really important, you know, to get together and fight for what we stand for, as women but as people in general,” she said. “We need to help each other out.”