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Lorraine Serena initiated WBB in 1991 with the intention of celebrating and connecting women artists around the world. During an early gathering with artist friends, a small box caught the attention of the group. Evocative of a vessel, womb, tomb, gift, shrine, the box provided a powerful symbol for women.

Women Beyond Borders is about dialogue. It is a gathering together of women so they can identify themselves, which is - speak for themselves. The importance of this action in a global society cannot be overestimated.
Suvan Geer, Artist / Writer

The Inspiration Founder’s Statement

PREMIERE EXHIBITION – CaliforniaMuseum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara

The initial “call for entries” drew on the relationships and contacts that the project founders had with curators and artists abroad. As a result of the first outreach in the early 1990s, more than 185 boxes were received and exhibited.

"WBB was a timely endeavor documenting women's visions and connecting them at the end of a century which had seen their struggle for rights and freedoms. It was one of our most popular shows and meaningful exhibitions and surpassed all of our expectations!"

- Nancy Doll, Director

Photo: Nancy Doll, Curator & Lorraine Serena, WBB Founder

First Boxes Arrive Opening Exhibition
FEMINISM FOR THE 1990s – California

FEMINISM FOR THE 1990s – CaliforniaHammer Museum, Los Angeles

Betty Ann Brown moderated the discussion that included women from various sides of the feminist movement including: Dean Dresser, Cheryl Dullabaun, Cheri Gaulke, Sondra Hale, Rosalie Ortega, Sandra Rowe and Lorraine Serena.

Community building is, above all, an art movement about inclusion.
- Betty Ann Brown, Ph.D., Art Historian, Critic and Curator

INTERNATIONAL TOUR BEGINS – IsraelBinyanei Ha'Uma ICC Contemporary Gallery, Jerusalem

WBB Artist and Curator, Elena Siff, gave her daughter, Ravel, a dozen boxes to bring along on her trip to Israel. Curator Daphna Naor, upon receiving the boxes, engaged artists and organized the first international exhibition.

Photo: Presidents Bill Clinton and Shimon Peres at the opening ceremony in Israel.

Worldwide parameters of communication became possible with the advent of the digital world. The 'box creations' established a network of female artists who maintain an international dialogue.

- Daphna Naor, WBB Curator

Israel Exhibition World Tour Video
PANDORA’S BOX – Switzerland

PANDORA’S BOX – SwitzerlandAntikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig

WBB boxes were displayed in conjunction with an exhibition of vessels and objects from 5th Century, entitled Pandora: Women in Classical Greece. Both exhibitions illustrated the strong need for solidarity throughout the centuries.

WBB reinforces the fact that we are in great and immediate need of an open and honest communication which moves us toward a spiritually rejuvenated plane of human relationship among the members of the worldwide family of art.

- Sania Papa, Critic and Theorist - Greece

Pandora Exhibition

BOXES ON THE TRAIN – Austria to Russia

In spite of many obstacles this unprecedented exhibition, installed in a Russian sleeper car, made its way through recently open borders from Graz, Austria to St. Petersburg, Russia. Travelers viewed the exhibition and others attended receptions in train stations throughout Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Passengers stayed with us for hours into the night discussing the project. Everybody told us that this trip would be impossible. I like to do impossible things.

- Eva Ursprung, WBB coordinator and Artist, Austria

Boxes on a Train
BOXES ON THE TRAIN – Austria to Russia

IN THE MIDST OF WINTER – RussiaRussian Museum of Ethnography, St. Petersburg

The WBB exhibition opened as a result of the determination of Princess Katya Galitzine and Polina Fedorova, WBB Curator and Artist. As viewers examined the boxes they felt terror and awe at the intense and direct universal expressions.

After seeing boxes from Vietnamese, Cuban and Israeli women, I felt such a great pain in my heart. I understood the cries, tears, and sorrows of the persecuted nations. The boxes open up the worlds, souls and hearts of women for others to understand and to help us to find strength in our future fight with our destiny.

- Helen, student, age 16, St. Petersburg

Russia ExhibitionBoxes from Russia


Sponsored by the Getty Education Institute for the Arts and the Southern California Institute for Visual Arts, Lorraine Serena and Beverly Decker held workshops for 185 participants from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara areas.


FINDING THEIR VOICE – KenyaNational Museum of Kenya, Nairobi

WBB Curator and Artist Yoni Waite expressed that women in Africa have been subjugated for years as chattel, yet recently many have begun finding their voices and power. Themes encompassed reverence for home and culture, imprisonment of body and soul, and respect for the mystery and magic of nature. WBB was the first exhibition of women’s art to be held at the National Museum of Kenya.

Photo: Lilian Nabulime - My Self, 1995, Uganda

Kenya Exhibition

THE HILLS OF UMBRIA – ItalyGallery Extra Moenia, Art Moderna, Todi

A 15th century villa overlooking the hills of Umbria was the site of the Italian exhibition. Cultural Anthropologist Dr. Cecilia Gatto Trocchi shared her impressions, “Women Beyond Borders narrates, in a succession of expressions, the most interesting aspects of feminine art produced today in different countries in Europe and beyond.”   Photo: Giuliana Dorazio, Director and Lorraine Serena, WBB Founder

Italy ExhibitionBoxes from Italy
A NATION AT WAR – Yugoslavia

A NATION AT WAR – YugoslaviaGallery Zvono, Belgrade

Several of the most prominent Yugoslav sculptors, painters and emerging artists gathered at the opening celebration in Belgrade.

Their creations reflected the depth and poetic approach of each participant in the midst of war. All the press wrote about was the exhibition and it became the talk of the day!

- Jasna Janicijevic, Professor of Culture,
Belgrade University

Yugoslavia JournalBoxes from Yugoslavia

TREK TO KATHMANDU – NepalTeen Dewal Mandir Temple

Nurse and Anthropologist Dr. Michele Andina transported the boxes via suitcase to the temple where they became a catalyst for discussions on women’s issues. Artist Sunita Rana’s eloquent statement revealed her wisdom: “Forging ahead in the women’s movement does not mean women fighting against one’s unique physical inheritance. It means uplifting themselves into more exalted positions as women.”

Nepal ExhibitionBoxes from NepalVIDEO

OUT OF THE MUSEUM – CanadaDufferin Mall, Toronto

From a temple in Kathmandu to the Dufferin Mall in Toronto, WBB continually reached out to unique venues and wider audiences. In addition to the participation of Canadian artists, the Toronto School District sponsored hundreds of students from across the city to participate in numerous workshops.

All of these artists, along with their many Canadian and worldwide colleagues, shared a distinguished consciousness of community, creating a genesis of global consciousness that borders, with all their powers, can no longer keep contained.

- Linda Abrahams, Director, Women’s Art Resource Center

Canada Exhibition

DIALOGUE AMONG DIVIDED WOMEN – CroatiaMelong Space, Zagreb

An installation of boxes from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia was arranged by Nada Beros, Curator of the Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art. These young artists were a representation of the war generation whose artistic and personal development and maturation followed a completely different path under adverse conditions. This can be seen in their various forms of artistic expression, their perception of their surroundings and their articulation of ideas. Photo: Ivana Keser - Personal Newspapers, Croatia, 1998

Croatia Exhibition

BEYOND THE BLOCKADE – CubaWilfredo Lam Center

The WBB exhibition was the second cultural exchange with North American artists after the blockade.

Summer brought with it to Havana a breathless cultural activity of special relevance in our aesthetic environment and of great resonance at an international level. Cuban artists revealed symbolic issues that defined their tremulous times.

- Magda Gonzalez, Curator and Founder, Wifredo Lam Center, Havana.

Photo: Winsom, WBB Artist, Lorraine Serena, WBB Founder, and Magda Gonzalez, WBB Curator

Cuba ExhibitionBoxes from Cuba

ARTISTS AND ARTISANS – MexicoMuseo de Arte Contemporaneo Oaxaca

The opening in Oaxaca brought artists from all walks of life together. As a result of the exhibition, Museum Director Fernando Solana, began at once to include women’s art in the museum’s permanent collection. Revered Poet and Anthropologist of Oaxaca, Margarita Dalton, declared, “WBB tells much more about the human condition than all of the peace agreements that have been signed in the world today.”

Photo: Crispina Navarro, WBB Artist, Lorraine Serena, WBB Founder, and Margarita Navarro, WBB Artist

Mexico ExhibitionBoxes from Mexico

CITY AND COUNTRY – JapanAkino Fuku Art Museum, Hamamatsu
Gallery One, Tokyo

In the forested hills of Hamamatsu, the Akino Fuku Museum celebrated the opening of WBB’s arrival with formalities, including the resounding atmosphere of women Taiko drummers.
Gallery One Park Tower, Tokyo, hosted the exhibition in the midst of a bustling urban atmosphere. Shoko Tomo and Yoshihiro Ikka, Curators.

Japan ExhibitionBoxes from Japan

BOXES DOWN UNDER – AustraliaBroken Hill Art Gallery
Manly Art Gallery & Museum
Tin Sheds Gallery, University of Sydney

I have never been to Finland, Cuba or Japan. However, in the creation of their boxes, something personal has been revealed. Something intimate has been shared. To others this may seem a very tenuous connection on which to base a sense of community. However, to me, it is powerfully real.

- Diana Robson, Programs Coordinator,
Broken Hill Art Gallery.

Photo: Nazanin Marashian, WBB Artist, Jan Fieldsend, Tin Sheds Gallery Director, and another attendee

Boxes from AustraliaAustralia Exhibition

IMAGES OF EQUITY – United Kingdom, IrelandRivington Gallery, London
Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes
Newport Community Center, Ireland

Usually social commentary comes from the art critics of a culture, taking years to unfold. However, this is an all-at-once, all together, informal global commentary. This box exhibition has inspired conversations that are so different, so varied, that any issue or all issues arise.

- Penny Paine, Consultant, Educator, WBB Coordinator of UK and Ireland

Photo: Penny Paine & Mayor of Manly

UK Exhibition

INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS – United Kingdom, CaliforniaHeathrow and Stansted Airport
Ontario International Airport

  Exhibitions at International airports reached thousands of travelers daily.

INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS – United Kingdom, California

COMMUNITY COLLABORATION – SingaporeSculpture Square

Singaporean artists took a step further to encourage dialogue, by connecting with another person or community, creating collaborative boxes. The first lady of Singapore, Madame Goh Chok Tong led the ceremonial opening.

Singapore ExhibitionBOXES From Singapore

10 YEAR RETROSPECTIVES – Los Angeles and Santa BarbaraWomen Beyond Borders: The Art of Building Community
Fowler Museum UCLA
Art Museum UCSB

Celebrating women worldwide for their creative expression, this multimedia exhibition explored the ten-year history and social impact of WBB. Boxes were also exhibited by Youth Beyond Borders and Girls Inc.

WBB is an inspiring, thought-provoking and aesthetically thrilling project. The connections it has fostered between nations and among women are remarkable. It also becomes a testament to the unbounded possibilities of human creativity, tested in the seemingly simple transformation of a small wooden box.

- Marla Berns, Director, Fowler Museum

Unabashed idealism was at the core of the effort, as noted in the mission statement explaining that the project ‘challenges limiting categories and shifts toward a reality beyond divisions of class,politics, race, creed, and geography.’ Those would be lofty words filled with air were it not for the evidence amassed here.

- Josef Woodard, Art Critic, Santa Barbara News Press


10 Year Retrospective

CULTURAL OLYMPIAD – UtahArt Access Gallery, Salt Lake City

What it means to be a contemporary woman artist on the cusp of the millennium was the impetus for the Utah artists. In addition, VSA (Very Special Arts) invited more than 6,000+ children with disabilities from 41 states and 83 countries to participate. A selection of Children Beyond Borders exhibition was concurrently displayed. The exhibitions were deemed one of the top five cultural events of the Cultural Olympiad.

Children Beyond Borders Cultural Olympiad Exhibition

INTIMATE EXPRESSIONS – RamallahKhalil Sakakini Cultural Centre

Featuring Palestinian artists, the exhibition in Ramallah included women expressing their most intimate experiences of instability and crisis, revealing the truth of their daily encounters. As Rudaya Qasrawi expressed, “There was always someone who broke my boxes that contained me and I them.”

Boxes from Palestine
ACROSS THE CITY –  Tennessee

ACROSS THE CITY – TennesseeThe Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville

The Frist Center for Visual Arts encouraged adjunct projects, including 1,000 teachers and students from the Nashville School District and other various groups. Workshops were held at the Renewal House and Magdalen House, recovery communities for women and their children who are suffering from alcohol, drug abuse and prostitution. The exhibition drew a record 52,000 viewers, the largest turnout to an exhibition in the museum's history.

TENNESSEE Exhibition

ART EXPRESSING LIFE – California, WashingtonPalo Alto Art Center
Seattle World Trade Center

Elaine Tajima of Tajima Creative developed the concept of pairing established artists with prominent community activists, politicians, authors and business leaders, such as Restaurateur Alice Waters, Army Lieutenant Laura Klein, US Senator Barbara Boxer, legendary Civil Rights Activist Yuri Kochiyama and Actress/Author Fannie Flagg. Included in Seattle were boxes by homeless women and girls at risk.

Photo: Fannie Flagg and Ramona Otta, Fannie's Soap Box, 2006, USA

TAJIMA Exhibitions
ART EXPRESSING LIFE – California, Washington


The publication of The Art of Building Community traces the initiative’s journey and social impact on a local as well as a global level.



Isabella Bird Award, Woman of Vision for the creative approach of building community among women and for the publication: Women Beyond Borders, The Art of Building Community


More than 55 boxes by Tutsi widows of the genocide were created at a workshop in Kigali in an effort to help the women work through their loss and grief. The transformed boxes and statements reflect the atrocities and immensely personal hardships they endured in their attempt to cope with memories.

Many people died and the majority of genocide survivors are struggling for life. The telephone you see is calling for help. Inside the box, there is my heart. I will never forget the blood that was shed. The blue color means that I hope to live happily.

- Collette Mukandoli

Photo: Collette Mukandoli - Untitled, 2006

RwandaBoxes from Rwanda

UNDERSTANDING WOMEN – MontanaMissoula Art Museum

More than 1,200 fifth graders from Missoula County came to the museum throughout the three-month long exhibition to view the boxes and to discuss women’s issues. While observing the exhibition, the boys and girls collected information, culminating in earnest discussions that gave the students new insights into women.

Missoula, Montana continues to feel the ripple effect of Women Beyond Borders. The influence on the community has been greater than any other exhibition at the Missoula Art Museum.  

Cricket Wingfield

> 2007 The US President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities gave recognition to Women Beyond Borders for its size, scope and cultural impact.


Montana Exhibition


WBB Founder and Artist, Lorraine Serena, received the Women’s eNews 21 Leaders of the 21st Century Award for Building Peace and Connections around the world. A gala benefit honored the 21 leaders in New York City.

Photo: Leymap Gbowee, Lorraine Serena and Lillie Pearl Allen


WHAT’S A BOX GOT TO DO WITH IT? – CaliforniaArt Gallery at John Spoor Broome Library, CSUCI, Camarillo

Reflections on the Body was the theme for the WBB exhibition held in conjunction with a weeklong series of events that  took place during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

The boxes selected for the exhibition provided an inner space as well as an interface, becoming a metaphor for the body itself in its myriad expressions, as well as a vehicle for introspection and dialogue.

- Anette G. Kubitza, Ph.D., Art History

CSUCI ExhibitionCSUCI Video Boxes from CSUCI


Headed by Diep Vuong of the Pacific Links Foundation, the aim was to support the reintegration process of young women survivors of human trafficking along the Northern and Southern borders of Vietnam.

With the goals of self-development, reflection, and healing, the project focused on helping young survivors begin to rebuild their lives through art and group sessions. The girls worked together to create boxes, paint and assemble them into a collaborative mosaic, symbolizing the individuality of each woman and the interconnectedness of their journey.

- Patricia Nguyen, Coordinator

Vietnam Journal
WBB ON STAGE – California

WBB ON STAGE – CaliforniaRubicon Theatre Company, Ventura

For the first time ever the Women Beyond Borders organization took to the stage in a theater production that showed from Friday April 26th, 2019 until Sunday June 2nd, 2019. The talented team of Claire Bowman, Karyl Lynn Burns, Lauren Patten and Beverly Ward worked tirelessly with Lorraine Serena to adapt the project to theater.

Over the course of about 85 minutes, the audience was transported to a forest in Upstate New York, a classroom in Rwanda, a boat fleeing Saigon — so many places and experiences that are deeply personal and yet universal. While the actors performed, images of many of the boxes were projected onto a big screen.

– Emily Dodi, VCReporter

WBB on Stage

Formosa Tales – TaiwanCloud Forest Gallery 27M, Taipei

Women Beyond Borders are proud to announce that we have opened a new exhibition in Taiwan in conjunction with Red Room, a community-driven creative arts platform fostering inter-generational, cross-cultural expression. The Exhibition is entitled Formosa Tales and hosts the works of well over 70 artists. The exhibition was opened to the public at the Cloud Forest Gallery 27M in Taipei for International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8th, 2021. In 2022 the Red Room celebrated the 2nd Formosa Tales Box Project with the Namaxia aboriginal tribe in Kaohsiung, a municipality in southern Taiwan.

Formosa Tales – Taiwan
UCSB Gift – California

UCSB Gift – CaliforniaArt, Design and Architecture Museum of University of California, Santa Barbara

Lorraine Serena, Founder of Women Beyond Borders and the Board of Directors of Women Beyond Borders has announced that the Art, Design and Architecture Museum of University of California, Santa Barbara will receive the Women Beyond Borders archive and website as part of their permanent art collection. The archive which includes all the artwork produced by women around the world, the numerous quality ephemera and the WBB website will enhance the prestige of the Art, Design and Architecture Museum and will provide an important foundation for teaching, research and exhibition.

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