Paintings of women rockers and feminist icons make up the Take Everything exhibit at South Puget Sound Community College by Midland College painting instructor Michael Hubbard.
“Take Everything features paintings and installation work tracing a lineage of punk rock feminists, starting with the Riot Grrrl bands of the nineties, following their wild and angry energy into current social and political movements,” Hubbard said. “This exhibition focuses on two very different personas – former Olympia (Washington) resident Courtney Love, and medieval warrior Joan of Arc. Though an unlikely pair, these women act as points of reference in an exploration of the punk feminist universe.”
The artwork was featured at the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts at SPCC in Olympia, Wash. The show ran from Sept. 15 to Oct. 31.
The exhibit shows paintings that Hubbard had been working on for the past two years based around feminist activists and feminist musicians, he said. The musicians are the kind of the people showcased in the exhibit.
“A movement from the 90s called Riot Grrrl started in Olympia, WA. “So that was the reason my work fit in well with what (SPCC) wanted to do in Olympia,” Hubbard said. “There were these groups of punk rock musicians who started all-girl bands in the early 90s and the work in the show are paintings of contemporary feminists activists and artists today who have a similar energy, similar vibe as those musicians from back then.” The one thing that doesn’t musically fit in to that in this show was the reference to Joan of Arc, Hubbard said. The inspiration for the artworks started from this group of young women in Russia who were protesting the government and were arrested in 2012 for their protests and were all over the news.
“The images of them just kind of struck me and I started making some paintings based on those pictures and that kind of led me back to the musicians from the 90s, the bands that I listened to when was a kid,” he said. “Finding similarities there and from there it blossomed into finding associations with other people and things going on today and in the past.”
The installation exhibit featured LP players, with about a dozen records by some of the artists featured in the paintings. The music ranged from the 70s through today that the audience could listen to through headphones. The exhibition was open for students and the public to view.
Hubbard was invited to exhibit at SPCC last spring and spent six months preparing, he said. He worked on paintings over the summer. The main wall piece was designed especially for this show.
“This year at the school they were focusing on art that is in some way dealing with women and issues of women today,” Hubbard said.
“There was a little bit of controversy, because I am a man commenting on this feminist movement from that city and from the 90s, something that I wasn’t a part of,” he said. “(The movement) was started for women by women and there were a few people who took a bit of issue with me as man making art about that and the college. But for the most part all of the responses I’ve received from people there have been really positive about it.”
The backlash was somewhat anticipated, Hubbard said.
“I consider myself a feminist artist and a feminist and I recognized there will be issues with a man making feminist art, that it’s something that’s questionable. So I kind of anticipated that there might be some response to that. I personally approach it as I’m making paintings that are honoring people who I respect and admire. There may be some grey area, it may irk some people, but I feel like I’m coming at it from a point that’s very respectful and positive.”