Feminism wasn’t always touted by celebrities with as much clout as Beyoncé. But the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA Denver) has been encouraging the Denver community to explore women’s and gender issues in its lecture series “Feminism + Co.: Art, Sex, Politics” for 10 years. This weekend, Feminism + Co. will celebrate a decade of education and enlightenment with a three-day program filled with conversation, performances, and exhibition openings.
Elissa Auther, a New York City art curator, and Gillian Silverman, a professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Colorado Denver, started Feminism + Co. in 2007. The duo wanted to push feminist issues from the fringe and make them the focal point of conversations about art, politics, and culture. “In 2006 and 2007, there were some interesting things going on with feminist politics and feminist art that inspired us. There were a couple of exhibitions in Los Angeles and Brooklyn that focused on the history of feminist art; they were well received and created a lot of energy and excitement,” says Auther. “That was new. We wanted to create a dynamic conversation for the public about feminist culture.”
Since then, Auther and Silverman have seen feminism enter the mainstream, being hailed by everyone from Women’s March protesters to Aziz Ansari. “Feminism has become part of the cultural lexicon,” notes Silverman. “But you have to have a gender literacy when discussing issues of gender, and that is relatively new.” This year, the duo hopes to center the program’s discussion on how to keep feminism at the forefront of activism.
This year’s Feminism + Co. celebration will take over MCA for a full weekend, from Thursday, May 25 until Saturday, May 27. The weekend’s events focus on the intersection of feminism with public policy, art, and academia; the trifecta encourages a larger public debate on what feminism is. Silverman and Auther hope that Feminism + Co. will have particular impact this year, given the current political atmosphere surrounding women and gender issues.
On opening night, attendees can sit in on a panel discussion as Silverman and Auther discuss the changing landscape of feminism, and stay afterward for an (adults-only) dance. Friday night will feature the opening of two MCA exhibits: an installation centering around the politics of design and urban development by artist Derrick Velasquez, and a display of painter Jenny Morgan’s work that features a decade of her realistic portraitures. Saturday will see an all-day musical festival, including performances from from Girls Rock Denver, Youth on Record, Wheelchair Sports Camp, and a number of non-musical events.
For MCA’s director of programming Sarah Kate Baie, this event offers a rare opportunity for individuals to participate in a public forum outside of university settings. “People can come together and explore the issues with other people,” says Baie. “Through our programs [at the museum] we want to bring people together and recognize that in modern life public spaces are critical to democracy.”
If you go: Feminism + Co. takes place May 25–27 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany St. Ticket prices vary and can be purchased on the museum’s website or at the door, including discounts for museum members.