Fowler Museum of Cultural History, UCLA
Los Angeles, CA
January – April, 2002
Marla Berns, Executive Director
Betsy Quick, Director of Education
Anette G. Kubitza, Ph.D., Art History , Retrospective Curator
University Art Museum, UCSB
Santa Barbara, CA
October – December 2002
Bonnie G. Kelm, Executive Director
Maria Vierra, Assistant Director
Christopher Scoates, Chief Curator
Niki Dewart, Curator of Education
Anette Kubitza, Ph.D., Retrospective Curator
Penny Paine, Girls Inc. Consultant
Celebrating women worldwide for their creative expression, these powerful exhibitions explored the nearly ten-year history and social impact of this unique international women’s art project.
Women Beyond Borders is an inspiring, thought-provoking, and aesthetically thrilling project. The connections it has fostered among nations and among women are remarkable. It also becomes a testament to the unbounded possibilities of human creativity, tested here in the seemingly simple transformation of the same small wooden box.
Marla Berns, Director UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History
Transforming simple, identical boxes into vessels of artistic and cultural exchange, this retrospective features nearly 150 of the diverse boxes from more than 36 countries around the world. Ranging from contemporary and abstract content to political and conscious-building messages, these compelling pieces give incredible insight into the lives of our individual communities while breaking down barriers and creating a global movement of women’s voices. A selection of boxes from extensive adjunct projects, including the Los Angeles School district and Girls Inc. were also represented.
Some of the events that took place during the retrospectives included an International Symposium titled “ Redrawing the Map/Conversation Beyond Borders”, which was organized by the University Art Museum in Santa Barbara. Keynote speakers included Suzanne Lazy, an artist, educator and writer, who inspired the project WBB from her work in Public Practice. A panel included, Betty Ann Brown, professor of Art History, CSUN, Victoria Vesna, Chair at the Dept. of Design & Media Arts, UCLA School of the Arts, Gloria Alvarez, Chicana poet/intermedia artist in Los Angeles, among others.
At the opening in Santa Barbara, the chancellor of UCSB and his wife attended the event, which included many cultural ceremonies, dancers and musicians representing all different cultures from around the world. The University Art Museum had over 7,000 viewers with adjunct projects coordinated with the UCSB Multicultural Center, Women’s Center and Girls Inc. of Santa Barbara/ TRIBE teen program, who created their own Teen boxes.
The retrospective at Fowler Museum at UCLA also had a strong opening and adjunct projects included Girls Inc./ Stepping out of the box featuring the works of hundred Girls Inc. participants from the greater Los Angeles area. Another adjunct project, titled Youth Beyond Borders, created a city-wide box project featuring 1,000 students from Los Angeles Unified School District.
A guard at the WBB retrospective at the UCLA Fowler Museum was so inspired by the exhibition, he felt compelled to write a poem about the exhibition.
THE MAGIC BOXES
by Dan David 1-18-02
I made one thousand boxes by pine wood;
A thousand shrines, as nests for grist.
They were so small, you can fill them
with just the water in your fist.
I sent them far away, to see the world
as undressed bridegrooms,
But, like a wary mother, first of all
I scratched the addresses on their foreheads
to know where to return when
After they scoured the world,
and found their own brides
And their own destinies as well.
In my own box,
picked up at random from the pile,
closed in tight within.
As in the magic, bold, Orpheus’ lyre
I laid my heart,
and alongside, as in Noah’s Ark,
all other parts of a wide-awake soul:
earth, water, air and fire;
to stand against the other Floods
avoiding being drowned by passion or by sadness,
To find each other in a pinch,
in time, beyond time.
Day or night, year by the year,
from neighborhood, from far away,
by airways, brought by winds, by waters’ waves.
or running on the roads,
migrating creatures, faithful sons,
the boxes came then back
at mother’s home.
They came back either sad or happy,
they returned as rich or poor.
Everyone brought with it a life
or two, or even more.
Some are sealed tightly. . . capsules of time,
Others are open, readings for a night.
Today in Santa Barbara it’s raining.
From their windows,
looking toward the world,
Boxes reflect on the pacific waters,
colored with their magic histories:
A gallery of destinies, of women. . .
A rainbow that surrounds the planet,
s an alive, blessed shawl of hope.
And from the pine wood box, one day I sowed
and a large pine forest grew up on the earth.