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September Williams Author of Chasing Mercury at Opening Reception: Still They Persist Friday, November 2, 2018 at 6:00 PM Pro Arts

  • 150 Frank H. Ogawa PlazaOakland, CA 94612 (map)

Opening Reception: Still They Persist

Friday, November 2, 2018 at 6:00 PM

Pro Arts

150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612
THE FOG WILL LIFT — IT ALWAYS DOES— if you don’t give up.


STILL THEY PERSIST: Protest Art of the 2017 Women’s Marches

NOn January 21, 2017, triggered by Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States, the Women’s March has marked the largest single-day protest in U.S history. Two weeks before it took place, Waddell posted a message on Facebook asking marchers to save their protest signs. The initial idea was to mount a small exhibition on the wall of her home in Cincinnati, Ohio. However, the response was beyond her expectation. So she assembled fellow activists Marie Seda-Reder, Jaime Thompson and Cal Cullen to help her turn this collection into a traveling exhibition for the public.

This living archive includes more than one hundred and eighty objects that are made with humble materials by artists, craftspeople and amateurs alike; and each new iteration of Still They Persist is curated to center the public policy issues that are currently living in the hearts and minds of the public. The mission is to keep the words and images of progressive activists and allies in the minds and hearts of the public—encouraging ongoing resistance to tyranny in its many forms.

The project also has an emotional dimension for curator Maria Seda-Reeder. By deliberately selecting more than sixty artworks for the Oakland iteration, Seda-Reeder explores the passion, anger, and anxiety that are woven through the marches. Some are witty signs that say “We came from Alabama to remind Y’all about Civil Rights”, “Don’t make me burn my bra again!”. There are also ingenious sculptures, works on paper, T-shirts, pins, photographs and captured audio from the day of the march.

The city of Oakland, where Pro Arts Gallery is located, has always been the battlefield for protests. On the same day of 2017, tens of thousands of people jammed in the streets of downtown Oakland roaring for justice and human rights. For the Oakland iteration of the exhibition, Pro Arts Gallery will partner with the local organizations and artists to turn the venue into a safe place for sharing thoughts and expressing ideas.

About the FemFour

Initially intended to populate a large wall space in her personal home gallery, art collector, philanthropist, perennial board member, and museum docent volunteer Sara M. Vance Waddell began soliciting signs from artists as soon as she knew there would be a Women’s march on Washington. Enlisting the help of independent curator and art critic Maria Seda-Reeder as well as Wave Pool Gallery’s Executive Director and social practice artist Calcagno Cullen, the group then brought on board the Contemporary Arts Center’s Curator of Education, Jaime Thompson to round out their mission: keeping the words and images of progressive activists and allies in the minds and hearts of the public.

Dates and Venues 


May 20 – June 24, 2017    Wave Pool Gallery, (Cincinnati, OH)July 28 – August 13, 2017 Lexington Art League, (Lexington, KY)October 9 – 22, 2017  Contemporary Arts Center, (Cincinnati, OH)December 16, 2017 – January 7, 2018 KMAC Museum, (Louisville, KY)January 22 – March 31, 2018   Salisbury University, (Salisbury, MD)  November 2 – 30, 2018   Pro Arts, (Oakland, CA)



Amplifying the voices in this exhibition is a 190+ page color catalogue with detailed images of these objects of resistance, which includes critical essays by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, Micol Hebron, Betti-Sue Hertz, Noel Anderson, and Jenny Ustick; as well as photographic documentation from the day as seen through the eyes of the artists and activists who were on the ground, around the country on January 21st, 2017. Book design by Calcagno Cullen; all proceeds from sales of the book go to Heartfelt Tidbits, a Cincinnati-based non-profit refugee service organization.

The catalog is available for purchase on the night of the reception.

Public Program

Opening Reception & Talk: Friday, November 2nd, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Talk at 7:00 p.m.


At FotoFocus, the Radical Notion That Women Are People, Aperture (Oct. 26, 2017) 

Persistence of Mammary: Local exhibit ‘Still They Persist’ chronicles the protest art from recent women’s and human rights marches, City Beat (June 7, 2017)

Taking it to the gallery: Signs of Women’s March go on exhibit, Lexington Herald Leader (July 27, 2017)

This exhibition is made possible by the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the Fleishhacker Foundation, and the City of Oakland, Cultural Funding Program.

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