The exhibition “Women’s rights are human rights” highlights inequalities

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Recognizing the gender inequalities that still permeate most societies, curator Elizabeth Resnick curated the exhibition ‘Women’s Rights Are Human Rights: International Posters on Gender Inequality, Violence and Discrimination’.

The title of the exhibition comes from a speech given by Hillary Clinton at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, where she said: “if the term women’s rights were to be interchangeable with the term human rights, the global community would be a better place.”

The traveling exhibit, originally curated by Resnick in 2016, opened on the Fresno State campus at the Phebe Conley Gallery on January 24.

Each campus is able to arrange the posters in any way they choose, which means Fresno State Gallery Technician Christopher Lopez and Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Virginia Patterson were able to create a unique narrative with their display.

“Basically what happens is we, you know, she’ll say we have a number of posters, you can choose how many you want to display. We printed the posters ourselves,” Lopez said.

The exhibit began with 100 posters, and from those posters, Lopez and her team selected 83 to display in the Phebe Conley Gallery. These 83 posters feature 68 artists and organizations in total.

Some of the exhibit’s posters featured notable figures in the women’s rights movement. (Melina Kazanjian/The College Boy)

Fresno State Professor Martin Valencia and Assistant Professor Yasmin Rodriguez were also instrumental in organizing and planning the exhibit, according to Patterson.

“The [female symbols] on the pink wall [in the exhibit] [were] actually Yasmin’s idea. Martin was the original organizer, who secured funding for the show through an IRA grant,” Patterson said.

To set the tone of the exhibition, Valencia proposed to increase the size of several posters. For example, Trudy L. Cole’s “Preserve the Right of Choice (Restricted Area), 1993” poster from the United States is enlarged and hung in front of the gallery door to make a statement.

The poster, with a ‘Restricted Area’ sign on a woman’s lower body, calls on the government to stay away from issues relating to women’s bodies.

“I think it’s a really good display to show, like, that’s what you’re going to expect,” Lopez said.

Patterson shared appreciation for the exhibit’s flexibility.

“You know, if you saw this at another institution, it would probably be displayed in a totally different way,” Patterson said.

“It was tough because I mean, coming back, I was like, ‘Maybe we should have rearranged something. But I think at the end of the day when you host a show, you make a decision,” Lopez said.

Some of the posters displayed at the exhibition. (Melina Kazanjian/The College Boy)

Lopez and Patterson agreed that the exhibition format was designed to create an intentional conversation regarding the issues presented in the posters.

“I think the power of this show is that it shows, for example, a multitude of inequities that affect women and men in different ways. My hope for [the exhibit] was that students come in and are kind of empowered, especially our art and design students are empowered to use their voice and their work and kind of feel empowered to be confrontational,” Patterson said.

While the exhibit was originally scheduled to open when students returned to campus, the delay in returning to in-person instruction resulted in fewer visits to the gallery.

“The exhibit has been open for the past few weeks, but of course we felt like it was closed, but we had a few visitors,” Lopez said.

Classes from local elementary schools visited the exhibit for class outings, and now that Fresno State has returned to in-person instruction, teachers are bringing their classes, according to Lopez.

The exhibition will remain in the Phebe Conley Gallery until February 18. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The exhibition is free and open to the public.

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