"Feminist bananas" in hand, a gorilla – or, rather, Guerrilla Girl Kathe Kollwitz – took UT by storm Thursday night in the UC Auditorium.
Taking her pseudonym in honor of the famous female artist, Kollwitz appeared as a member of Guerrilla Girls, a feminist activism group.
Founded in 1985, the group produces numerous books, exhibits and performances throughout the country, which call attention to sexism and racism in art. Hosted by the Women's Coordinating Council, Kollwitz explained Guerrilla Girls' central mission: "reinventing the f-word – feminism."
"Over 55 women have been members of the Guerrilla Girls," Kollwitz said. "Some for weeks, some for decades. So, who knew that our work would cause all hell to break loose? Who knew it would cause a major crisis of conscious of diversity in the art world? A subject that museums, collectors and critics ignored and denied for a long, long time."
One of Guerrilla Girls' biggest campaigns consists of a poster, asking "Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?"
In 1989, the answer read "less than 5 percent of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 85 percent of the nudes are female." In 2012, the answer was only slightly different: "less than 4 percent of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 76 percent of the nudes are female."
To combat anti-feminism in art, the group began to create its own exhibits. Eventually, members were asked to show their work in the very art museums they critique, allowing them to protest views of women from within.
Anne Epley, junior in anthropology, attended Thursday's presentation at her friend's behest, who had seen work by Guerrilla Girls in the Tate Modern during a trip to London. Epley and companion Lexi Clark, junior in art history, were interested to hear Kollwitz personally explain the group's pieces.
"I've always been kind of a feminist, and I like listening to topics like this," Epley said. "I'm on Reddit a lot, and usually it's just like feminism is a really bad thing online, and I hate that. I hate that so much.
"So, it's nice to come and be reassured every once in a while."