Andrea Bowers is an artist and activist with the rare ability to create high-level, aesthetically pleasing, and visually interesting works of art that convey her interest in and commitment to a wide variety of social and political causes.
Andrea Bowers: Her Activism Animates Her Art
Andrea Bowers: Twenty Years is an overview of the artist’s work spanning her whole career, which has produced an impressive body of work.
More than sixty essential pieces in drawing, installation, sculpture, neon, and video are thoughtfully presented in this exhibition, which is grouped thematically rather than chronologically.
Many of the neon wall pieces at the exhibition, such as My/Her Body My/Her Choice (2017) and Empower(ed) Women (2019), were created in response to the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade and serve as reminders of the devastating effects of this decision.
Large-scale acrylic marker drawings on collaged flattened cardboard boxes representing feminist heroes taken from news and historical sources are among Bowers’ most recent works. To what extent does the government have jurisdiction over the male body in Can You Think of Any Laws That Do?
To paraphrase Senator Kamala Harris Bowers replaces the original text with Harris’ quote and fashions the illustration into a portrait of the former senator from Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing in 2018 (Frontispiece by Unknown Illustrator from Les Femmes Illustres, Ou, Les Harangues Heroques, by Madeleine de Scudéry, Published by Chez Antoine de Sommaville & Augustin Courbé, Paris, 1644) (2020).
Bowers also adapted an 1891 illustration by British artist Walter Crane displaying “Triumph” and “Prosperity,” as well as 19th century labourers, for his colossal cardboard work The Triumph of Labor (2016). In Bowers’ version, however, the caption “Dedicated to the wage workers of all countries” has been added, and many of the other lines in Crane’s artwork have been updated as well.
Similarly, in I Am Nature: Champion International Clearcut; West Flank of the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness (2013), Bowers reprints a photocopied flier depicting a clear-cut forest from an Eco-Defense ‘zine, whereas in A Menace to Liberty (2012), she recreates a 1912 Mother Earth cover featuring Emma Goldman.
In the middle of the room stands the impressive sculpture Radical Feminist Pirate Ship Tree Sitting Platform (2013), a life-size replica of the platforms used by tree-sitting activists like Bowers.
The United States v. Tim DeChristopher (2010) is a drawing and single channel video that combines footage of Bowers in the landscape writing the lot numbers of the parcels of land on a chalkboard with audio of climate activist Tim DeChristopher describing his acts of civil disobedience to protect 20,000 acres of land from oil prospectors.
Bowers’ Nothing is Neutral and Army of Three (2005) is a book, a video, and a massive grid of photocopies and ornamental wrapping paper that charts the struggle for women’s health rights and access to legal abortions.
The 23 graphite drawings that make up No Olvidado — Not Forgotten (2010) are each 50 by 120 inches in size. Behind a barbed-wire-topped chain-link fence, this mammoth effort lists the names of individuals who perished while attempting to cross into the United States from Mexico.
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