It took two years to bring Collective Impact: Females Joining Forces to the Kennedy Heights Art Center. The impactful, women-powered exhibit features the work of seven local female artist collectives, bringing together under one roof a variety of styles and creative processes that explore art and life.
Initially set to open in the spring of 2020 as part of ArtsWave’s “Power of Her” initiative, the exhibit was postponed due to COVID-19. Mallory Feltz, director of exhibits and public art at Kennedy Heights Art Center, knew the show needed to go on, so she began working with the artists on a new plan of action.
“We didn’t want to cancel it,” Feltz says. “We knew this was too important and too interesting of a show. But it gave our groups a little bit longer to work and reflect on what they wanted to do.”
In April, those groups got the chance to showcase their work. Art for Artists, Art Hags, BombShells of Cincinnati, LOOK, Maidens of the Cosmic Body Running, PhotograpHERS, and Pull Club all contributed. Feltz drew much of her inspiration for the show’s concept from the second-wave feminist movement of the ’60s and ’70s, when female art collectives, like the Guerrilla Girls, were especially popular.
“They made their own spaces,” Feltz says. “They really worked hard to propel the movement.”
Lutz wanted to explore how local female artist collectives share space, resources, and information. “It’s great to see the variety in which people collaborate and work and use art to portray important information and have really important discussions,” she says.
Here’s what you can expect from the art collectives featured in Collective Impact.
BombShells of Cincinnati
BombShells of Cincinnati brings whimsy and joy to the space with its bright, all-new fiber art and also displays its signature group costume—blonde wigs and sunglasses—on the mantel in their room. The show features all-new pieces from the group that radiate happiness and wonder throughout the space.
One of the newest artist collectives in the exhibit, Art Hags, focuses on exploring life during and after quarantine. The piece painted above the fireplace, You Should Have Known, instantly sets the mood. The work incorporates cut-up pieces of clothing the artist wore in 2020, making a powerful statement about how the artist felt guilty and remorseful for not being better prepared when the pandemic arrived.
Art for Artist
More than 20 women join forces to make up the Art for Artist collective, which has been meeting since 2006. The members of this collective prefer to work on their projects individually before bringing them together to create unique, yet cohesive pieces—like the collection of books on display for this exhibit. “That’s kind of the magic of this group—everyone is so different, but it all works together,” Feltz says.
This collective experimented with something new for its exhibit. Usually, members meet to discuss their individual projects and get feedback on how to move forward or solve a problem. For this exhibit, Feltz tasked the artists with creating group pieces that showcase how the members work together to create photography projects. Walking through the space, you can see common threads woven among the images that still maintain the artists’ individuality.
The Kennedy Heights installation showcases this collective’s knack for romanticizing nature and bringing the whimsy indoors. The women were inspired by Louis Kennedy’s father, a seed salesman, and used that theme as the root of their installation. (Louis Kennedy was former mayor of Kennedy Heights; his home is now the arts center.) When you walk into the space, you’ll notice prose painted on the walls with dirt and a video playing in the center of the room that’s reminiscent of being in nature, but leaves the viewer wanting more. “Videos of nature take you one step apart from nature,” says Feltz. “And every step apart from nature, you long for nature.”
This artist duo enjoys exploring female friendships and relationships through a blend of poetry and printed pieces. Scattered throughout the space, you’ll find representations of what it is to be a woman, all with a dash of humor that adds lightheartedness to their works.
When you walk outside, you’ll find Pull Club’s large, screen-printed signs surrounding the Kennedy Heights building, each one focusing on daily occurrences and thoughts of women and their roles within society. These pieces aim to bring to light all too common experiences of women and help create dialogue moving forward.
After waiting a year for the exhibit to finally come to life, Feltz says she’s proud of how the show came together and hopeful that the show leaves a lasting impact on those who visit it. “I hope it inspires people who are creative to try something new,” says Feltz. “I would like for it to inspire other women artists to form collectives, to form more groups, because there is power in numbers, and there’s a lot of support in it, too.”