By: Emma Sauer
Since its establishment by Alumni and former Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes in 1971, UMKC’s Women’s Center has been a proud voice for gender equity on campus. Through 50 years of continuous education, advocacy, and support services, the Women’s Center has diligently worked to cultivate a feminist-friendly community at UMKC. Most recently, our programming has revolved around supporting UMKC’s female athletes, our healing arts corners, and increasing our menstrual product supply available to the public. Our office is and always will be a safe space for every marginalized student, faculty member, or community member who walks through our doors.
To celebrate half a century’s worth of service, the Women’s Center is proud to unveil “Ms. behaving!”, an art exhibit co-curated by Women’s Center Director Arzie Umali and Sonie Ruffin. The exhibit will feature artwork showcasing acts of gender empowerment. In the words of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “well-behaved women seldom make history”. In other words, to enact real change, we must refuse to silence our voices. Activism demands determination and resilience in the fight for equity. Even the smallest act of courage, resilience, or rebellion can create lasting impact.
During our opening night on Friday, November 4, we saw an incredible turnout, despite the heavy rain! Now that I’ve been with the Women’s Center for two semesters, I can confidently say our art exhibits hosted through “Her Art Project” are my favorite events. During a brief speech at the event, our director Arzie emphasized the importance of giving female artists a platform. She pointed out that if you ask someone to name male artists, nobody ever has an issue listing off a whole list of them–but ask for female artists, and people will struggle to name even one. That’s a problem. There are a plethora of female artists out there just as, if not more, talented than their male counterparts, but art communities often fail to recognize them. At least now, after someone sees in the exhibit, they’ll be able to name more than a dozen right in KC.
The UMKC Women’s Center Anniversary Exhibit will be up for viewing at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in the Crossroads Arts District until January 28. We invite you to stop by, enjoy the art, and reflect on what you find there.
We hope this exhibit inspires you to walk in the footsteps of other trailblazers throughout history: abolitionists, suffragists, and feminists who misbehaved!