In the months since the fall of the US Supreme Court Roe v. calf In June, people across the country saw their access to abortion medicine disappear as states continue to enact strict restrictions and outright bans on the procedure. As shock waves ripped through the country, activists quickly rallied to help and protect people who might seek an abortion, as well as the clinics working to provide the care and services needed. To support these causes, curatorial collective Grandma organized a benefit auction to raise funds for Vote Save America’s Immediate Abortion Access Fund. The Impact: Immediate Abortion Access Fund auction, subtitled We Deliver Our Bodies, is now live on Artsy and will run until October 13th.
The Immediate Abortion Access Fund provides immediate resources to access abortion, including travel or payment for the procedure, and funds independent clinics to stay open and provide services even when individuals cannot afford them. The initiative also contributes to a possible legal defense. “This last part is in response to the decision by some states to criminalize access to and support for abortion,” said Shaniqua McClendon, political director of Crooked Media, Vote Save America’s parent company. “No one should be criminalized for access to health care, but we stand ready to help with legal defenses if that happens.”
Featuring a cross-generational group of artists, the auction includes Michele Pred, Amani Lewis and Vanessa German, among others. “The artists reflect two main components: teachers who have guided us for generations and new voices who are the hope for the future,” said curator Paige Haran, who co-founded Grandma with Rebecka Jackson. The collective organizes exhibitions and programs as acts of caring and critical resistance. As the name suggests, part of the Grandma ethos is to celebrate the work of activists who shared knowledge and fought for a better future.
“The issues faced by older generations of artists are still relevant today, which is what makes the auction so powerful,” Jackson said. “Women’s liberation, gender justice, racial justice are unfortunately still concerns of today. In the auction we see artists from different generations who address the same themes. This is unfortunate, but also provides a moment to see something beautiful that people continue to carry the torch and create spaces for resistance.”
The auction will feature a range of mediums including painting, photography and sculpture. Some works respond directly to the theme of the body and bodily autonomy, including Pred’s prohibitions of our bodies (2022), a red vintage purse with the title woven into the surface in blue electroluminescent wire. Kristin Reger and Juvana Soliven contribute mixed media sculptures resembling items associated with female healthcare, including intrauterine devices (IUDs) and gynecological instruments.
“Soliven talks about how our bodies can be armed against us and how something can be a tool or a safe haven in one breath and a place of violence the next,” Haran said. “It’s a clear connection to what’s happening around us. We are facing a failure of our legal system. We also face the danger of wiping out the struggles and activism. The art in this auction is a step in keeping the stories going, keeping the legacy alive and offering moments of critical thought and beauty. Activism takes perseverance. The pieces in the auction will forever remind us of this day-to-day work.”
Abstract artist Vian Sora, who contributed two works to the auction, addresses these notions of endurance and survival. Sora was born in Baghdad and now resides in Kentucky, a state that completely bans abortion with very few exceptions. In her work she explores the tension between beauty and war, life and death, growth and decay.
As physical objects that survive the trauma they represent, the works in the auction celebrate the endurance of both artistry and activism. Perseverance is the meaning of constant commitment. “People often only react in crises,” Jackson said. “Auctions like this ensure that people are constantly reminded of the possibility of losing our physical rights, even if it seems far from reality.”
McClendon echoed these sentiments: “There is always a risk that outrage will subside in the aftermath of a crisis. It is important to be continually active, especially when an election is coming up. This can be especially difficult when an issue doesn’t directly affect us, but we need to remember that abortion is literally on the ballot, now more than ever. Whoever controls the Senate, House of Representatives, state legislatures, and governorships will determine whether we have access to abortion as we move forward for everyone, everywhere. Thank you to Grandma and the artists in the auction who are willing to publicly relate their work to the causes at hand. It makes a big, long-lasting difference.”