This Bay Area Exhibit Around Feminism Couldn’t Have Come at a More Needed Time

OMCA’s ‘Hella Feminist’ exhibit is a love letter to an inclusive future — one that understands reproductive rights are human rights

Matt Charnock

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Katherine Sherwood, Olympia, 2014.
(Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles/OMCA)

I often catch myself walking through the world surprised at just how calm I am in the presence of the mounding chaos. Trumpism, despite our wishful pontifications, is very much still alive. Children continue to die from mass shootings. We now have a second health emergency to contend with: monkeypox. The climate is, quite frankly, evolving into a form not congruent with human life.

Of course, Roe v. Wade has now been overturned — setting the United States nearly 50 years back and ushering in a new, hauntingly dark era for reproductive rights in this country.

It all feels too much. It’s because it is all too much. The human soul can only support so much pressure before its torso meets the kitchen floor.

But the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) recently debuted its newest exhibit, Hella Feminist, which is rooted in the idea that discrimination against all elements of identity — “gender, class, race, sexual orientation, physical ability, education, age, etc.” — are tied together and, thus, must be addressed as a collective. It harps on the notion that none of us are free until all of us are free.

Opening today, July 29th, the exhibit is the nexus of several years of political turmoil, cultural phenomena (like the #MeToo movement circa 2017), and the art that was created during that time to help make sense of these happenings. While the exhibit was initially slated to open in June of 2020 — synonymously paying homage to the 100th anniversary of womens’ suffrage — the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 scrapped any and all opening plans.

(The museum, itself, was shuttered for well over a year after the Bay Area-wide shelter-in-place edict was enacted in March of 2020. OMCA officially reopened on June…

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Matt Charnock

SF transplant, coffee shop frequent; tiny living enthusiast. iPhone hasn’t been off silent mode in nine or so years. Former EIC of The Bold Italic.