Amid the crowd dressed up for Comic-Con some years ago, artist Anna Stump stood outside the San Diego Convention Center and asked women in costumes to pose for photographs.
One woman in particular stood out — so much so Stump later decided she deserved a portrait.
The two-piece canvas painting shows a woman in a fierce stance, dressed in what appears to be a white bralette, black fishnet tights, black booty shorts and white knee-high boots. She’s grasping a white stormtrooper helmet in one arm while holding up a black gun with the opposite hand.
A bold statement is painted down the second canvas: “Another f------ princess to be rescued.”
“This fierce warrior stuck out and I felt she deserved both a portrait and a mission: to save all the princesses, male (or) female, still stuck in old gender roles,” Stump wrote in a blurb about the artwork.
Stump is one of 21 women whose bold viewpoints are showcased through their art at The Front in San Ysidro as part of the art gallery’s 11th annual Dia de la Mujer (Women’s Day) exhibit.
The artwork includes paintings, sculptures, quilts, videos and more.
“It’s important to have a platform for women because in communities like San Ysidro, women get things done,” said Lisa Cuestas, CEO of Casa Familiar, which runs the exhibit. “It’s the women who make a lot of the big decisions for a family.”
This year’s theme — #MyVoice — inspired artists to take on political, cultural, sexual and gender issues. The exhibit features artists from across the globe — from the United States and Mexico to Italy and South Korea.
Cuestas said the theme, which emerged a few weeks before the Me Too movement materialized, was inspired by the social movements women have led in the past year.
David Flores, Casa Familiar’s community development director, said the exhibit allows women’s voices to be heard and either sparks or continues discussions about the issues the artists — and women in general — have brought forward.
Among the artwork is an installation of nine rolls of toilet paper hanging on a wall, with a black and white headshot of President Donald Trump printed on each sheet of toilet paper. Various quotes attributed to Trump are printed below each headshot.
“Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, called upon a nationalist spirit...” artist Ingrid Hernandez wrote, in part, about the artwork, which she named after the slogan. “Make America Great Again places this campaign phrase in a condition of disposability with the symbolic intention of diminishing the power of a presidential discourse that (came) from the most powerful nation in the world.”
Another piece is also symbolic: a sculpture of a phoenix, made of resin and red, orange and yellow leaves.
“This is a reflection of my life: failed marriages, loss of jobs, and the death of loved ones,” artist Mara Nasland wrote in her explanation of the artwork. “Each of these individual experiences reduced me to a point where I had to reassess and decide to remake myself. Each time, I become a stronger, happier person. I feel like a phoenix who dies a fiery death to come back, and rises from the ashes, each time more powerful than before.”
The exhibit, which opened March 8, is open to the public Thursdays and Fridays between 3 and 6 p.m. until May 4. The Front art gallery is located at 147 W. San Ysidro Blvd.
Special events as part of the free exhibit include poetry presentations from 2 to 8 p.m. on March 31 and a music festival from 2 to 8 p.m. on April 7.
Cuestas said it is particularly important to promote art in communities such as San Ysidro, where funding for the arts is limited and the “first to go” when schools make cuts.
“The culture and art never disappears in a community like San Ysidro, but it never shines if it never has a space,” she said.
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