A Celebration of the UMKC
Women’s Center’s 50th Anniversary
November 4, 2022 – January 28, 2023
Curators: Arzie Umali and Sonié Ruffin
In recognition of the Women’s Center’s 50 years of service to the University of Missouri, Kansas City and the surrounding community, this art exhibition features local artists whose works convey gender empowerment and portrayals of activism, determination, and resilience in the lives of individuals seeking gender equity. In the fight for women’s and gender rights, “well-behaved women seldom make history!” (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Harvard professor emerita)
When Professor Ulrich wrote the above sentence in one of her scholarly articles in the 1970s, little did she know the cultural phenomenon that it would become, appearing on bumper stickers, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and later becoming the title of one of her books (Knopf, 2007). The phrase became a rally cry for some feminist activist as they’ve tried to reclaim the significance of women’s lives in history. Whether rooted in gender normative, domestic duties of housekeeping and childrearing or barrier-breaking (and rule-breaking) actions of abolitionists, suffragists, and human rights activist, women have played a significant role in modern civilization, though often not regarded, or recorded unless it was for behaviors that were extreme or uncharacteristic. Ulrich’s 2007 book addresses the slogan by illuminating the lives of three history-making women, Christine de Pizan, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Virginia Wolfe. Today we can also look at the lives of individuals like Malalah Youfsafzai, Dolores Huerta, Serena Williams, and Dr. Rachel Levine whose own extraordinary journeys defied gender norms and patriarchal systems.
Ms.behaving! is an exhibit that captures the lives of individuals making statements about gender equity. Whether lived extraordinarily or every day, these creative individuals are shaping society and defining humanity. Works in this show portray gender empowerment, strength, and survival. Today, women’s behaviors need not be defined as good or bad, but important, relevant, and valid.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City Women’s Center is one of the oldest campus-based women’s centers in the United States and the second oldest in the Midwest. Founded in 1971 as the Women’s Resource Service in the Division of Continuing Education, the Women’s Center has maintained a home at UMKC for over 50 years serving as a resource to our campus and beyond. Our mission is to educate, advocate, and provide support services to advance gender equity on campus and in the community at large. Through the Her Art Project, our mission is achieved via programs that examine the status of gender equity in the arts, remove barriers to access and participation, and celebrate the creativity of women and gender minorities.
Art by .E Lewis