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Curator Spotlight: Ladies Night, Throwbactivists

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For Art.Downtown., Throwbactivists will be curating “LADIES NIGHT” at 307 S. Division.The show references women’s issues and features an international lineup of artists.

Check out these links:

To see more about Throwbactivists, join them on Facebook. Tune into their Art.Downtown. show LADIES NIGHT. Find out more about the Avenue [Work]space in the article here. Check out Art.Downtown. at

Avenue [Work]Space, where Throwbactivists will host LADIES NIGHT

Avenue [Work]Space, where Throwbactivists will host LADIES NIGHT /Ave for the Arts

/ "Insecurity" by Kierstynn Holman

In March of 2014, after hearing about the Abortion Insurance Opt­Out Act, popularly known as Rape Insurance, a small group of women gathered to create a plan of action. Throwbactivists began out of that meeting, when a group of women from different backgrounds came together with one common goal: to connect women with equality­ driven knowledge, opportunities, and to advocate through an open social community.

The group’s founding president, Heather Duffy, is an artist and independent curator from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Exhibitions Manager at ArtPrize, and a volunteer member of the Avenue for the Arts Advisory Board and Curatorial Committee. This week I was able to speak with Duffy about the upcoming show and the aspirations of Throwbactivists members for future local projects. “We educate ourselves through research and community involvement,” Duffy says, “and by educating ourselves we can help to empower fellow women in the community to take control of their rights within their bodies, their community, and their government.”

Duffy informed me we are in a moment of balance now between the progress and regression of women’s rights, especially in Michigan. The name “Throwbactivists” eludes to longstanding challenges that women have faced and a call to lift up activists as well as empower activism through recognizing and celebrating iconic women’s rights movements. “It’s a common misperception that women’s issues were covered in the 70s, 80s and 90s to completion; that it ran its course, no further need to explore these ideas”, Duffy explains. "A new wave of feminism is alive, expanding and increasingly relevant.” Throwbactivists is an inclusive group where no single belief or rights movement trumps the rest. Duffy, along with the rest of the group, encourages women to step up into leadership roles.

For Art.Downtown. 2015, Throwbactivists is curating a show titled “LADIES NIGHT”, which is a collection of work by artists who identify as women, referencing women’s issues and/or using materials traditionally associated with women. Examples include crafts, fibers, cloth, and materials of the body. The concepts and execution of work in the show are rooted in women’s issues.

The goal Throwbactivists aims to accomplish through LADIES NIGHT is to increase visibility for existing women’s advocacy groups in Grand Rapids and artists tackling these issues. This is the first art exhibition produced by Throwbactivists, who have only existed in Grand Rapids for a year. When I asked if the group will be producing art exhibitions regularly, Duffy explained that “regularly” is a possibility, but might mean once annually.

As it stands, many core leadership members of the group have backgrounds in the arts. In fact, several Throwbactivists members are artists, curators and participants within Avenue for the Arts already, some of whom have held fundraisers on the Avenue in past years. “We are excited about using Avenue’s gallery space and about highlighting the identity of the space specifically within the context of the show,” Duffy adds. “The Avenue is so community focused and fueled. It’s a place where people already gather and respond to callsl to action; the 307 gallery is equally rooted in being an art space and a downtown connection resource.”

Finally, I inquired about how visitors to LADIES NIGHT could get further involved in Throwbactivists. Duffy explained that while the group does not have a physical building space, they do have an active information­based presence on Facebook. They are an open group, both in social media and in person. Their monthly IRL event is “Throwbactivist Third Thursday,” a group meeting on the Third Thursday of every month at Billy’s Lounge. The monthly event alternately features guest speakers advocating women’s rights, and Planned Parenthood’s Friend’s With Benefits (sex trivia). There is no need to RSVP for Third Thursdays; just show up and jump in. “There are always new faces,” Duffy says, “It’s an outlet for people who feel like they can’t stand by silently.” The group exists in its avant­garde structure purposely, and is always welcoming. Representatives of different women’s rights activists groups come together as part of the Throwbactivists movement. This makes their leadership planning team very open and inclusive, who encourage the promotion of events and calls for volunteers. Duffy adds, “we want to highlight the work of partner organizations and focus on community building.”

To see more about Throwbactivists, join them on Facebook, or find out more about Ladies Night.

Find out more about the Avenue [Work]space in the article here. Check out Art.Downtown. online.

The Avenue for the Arts is a neighborhood title for the South Division commercial corridor. We are residential, commercial and nonprofit groups working together in a creative community. We are residents in Heartside, and active participants in shaping change in our neighborhood. In 2005, we chose the Avenue for the Arts as a title to represent our commercial corridor and the projects and events that we create. Because the Avenue is powered by volunteers, guest writers create our Rapidian content. Special thanks to Learning Lab participant Dustin Coon for his contribution to this piece. Dustin works through his self-operated studio to create illustrations, portraits, murals, landscapes, comics, and visual series, among writing, storyboarding and marketing.

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