Days Before The Inauguration, Nasty Women Stage Their Own Show

Hundreds of female artists around the world are putting on exhibitions designed to serve as an artistic middle finger to Donald Trump.

While Trump’s harnessing of the internet worked in his favor during the election, artists are seeking to use it mobilize against him–especially the participants in a new exhibition called Nasty Women.


It all started with a Facebook post, where the artist Roxanne Jackson tagged a few of her friends in the art world in what would become a viral post: “Hello female artists/curators! Let’s organize a NASTY WOMEN group show!!! Who’s interested???”

Among those she called out was Jessamyn Fiore, a curator in New York experienced in organizing exhibitions. Once Fiore saw the hundreds of comments on Jackson’s post, she began to realize that her friend had sparked something.

Less than a week later, the two friends had brought a few more on board, built a website to take submissions, and connected with the Knockdown Center, a warehouse-turned-arts-space in Queens, New York, that agreed to host the Nasty Women exhibition. But this wouldn’t be like any group show Fiore had ever organized.

“I realized it wasn’t so much about the specific artists or works in it as it is about an overall statement of solidarity between women,” Fiore says. “We decided to make it totally inclusive.”

Anyone who submitted a work–as long as it was under 12 by 12 inches and they agreed to deliver or ship it to the Knockdown Center–was accepted to the show. Fiore estimates the final show had more than 650 pieces of art, all of which were priced at $100 dollars–and all proceeds from the show will benefit Planned Parenthood. The works were installed on giant letters that spell out “NASTY WOMEN”; on the exhibition’s opening night, 444 works were sold, raising a total of $34,950 for the organization.

[Photo: EPW Studio/Maris Hutchinson]

Twenty-five venues around the country and the world, from Nashville and Phoenix to Melbourne, Australia, and Brussels, Belgium, will be holding their own Nasty Women exhibitions. The only requirements Jackson, Fiore, and their fellow organizers had were that the exhibition had to be entirely volunteer-based and that all proceeds from the sale of the art would go to an organization that supports women’s rights. The designer who built the giant letters for the Knockdown Center, Clive Murphy, has created an instruction guide explaining how to build them so that each successive exhibition can construct their own.

Katya Grokhovsky, Hotness (Approval Pending), 2016.

“Contemporary art often poses new models and new visions. That’s something that we do need at this time,” says Fiore. “We need alternatives and brainstorming about potential solutions, what we can do. Not only to defend what we have but to move forward in the future. I think art can be a great place for that.”


About the author

Katharine Schwab is an associate editor at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture.