By Arzie Umali
Currently on display at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center is the exhibit Wonder Women: SHEroes, Freedom Fighters, and Women Who Kick Butt! Despite its title, the exhibit is not about comic books or video games. Nor does it feature provocatively posed damsels wielding weapons. This Wonder Women exhibit is about real life women who are superheroines of our art community doing what they do best: seeking truth and justice through the work that they create, driven by their passions and their creative spirit.
The Superheroines of this exhibit are local artists Michelle Beasley, Nedra Bonds, Nicole Emanuel, Ritchie Kaye, Eugenia Ortiz, and Sonie Ruffin. Each of the artists in this exhibit on her own is a wonder woman. They are activists, advocates, and change makers in the community who create art and imagery that evoke the strength, courage, and resilience of the empowered woman. Michelle Beasley’s works are each autobiographical, revealing her multifaceted life and a reality shared by so many women. Nedra Bonds’ textiles are portraits and portrayals of women past and present who represent the diverse history and struggles of women. Nicole Emanuel’s works take opposing views of wonder women: the superficial, fictionalized women depicted in her comic- book- covered, six-foot “Wonder Bra” versus the more natural, realist rendering of two women posed on opposite end of a large canvas. Ritchie Kaye’s larger than life photo of four properly posed women invites us to wonder about the varied lives of women, where what one see’s on the surface may not always be what rests below the surface. Eugenia Ortiz’s works in sculpture and on canvas are rich with color and heavy with texture evoking the emotions of conflict, healing, and transformation. And Sonie Ruffin’s textiles tell stories of the African American experience and remind us of the multicultural world we live in and a past we shouldn’t forget.
Together the works in this exhibit create a conversation about women. The viewer is asked to join the conversation and consider the unique and diverse lives of all women, the experiences that they have, and the actions that they take that make them true wonder women.
A reception will be held at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center on First Friday, March 7, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. and will include a brief talk by each artists. The reception is free and open to all; however, registration is requested at https://wonderwomenartistreception.eventbrite.com. Wonder Women is sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center’s Her Art Project. The mission of the project is to support the creative achievements of local women artists and advance gender equity in the arts. To learn more about the Her Art Project please visit www.umkc.edu/womenc/herart or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/herartproject.