Riot Grrl gallery cultivates creativity

Robin Naylor

A collection of old Riot Grrl leaflets.
A collection of old Riot Grrl leaflets.

Just a hop across the bay in San Francisco, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is hosting an exhibition called ‘Alien She’, a reference to a Bikini Kill song of the same name, that pays tribute to Riot Grrl.

Riot Grrl is an underground feminist punk rock genre that popped up during the 90’s and sent shockwaves through the world for its brash attitudes towards women’s rights, and is often seen as the start of third wave feminism.

The gallery features installations from seven female artists whose art was shaped by being involved in the Riot Grrl movement during their youth. The artwork ranges from sculpture to curated music selections to a pink knit barbed wire fence.

As you walk into the gallery, a techni-colored wall of zines (self published magazines) and leaflets greets you, heralding bands like Bikini Kill and slogans such as “We are the revolution” and “Riot not diet.” In a well-lit corner there are stations where visitors can listen to Riot Grrl music divided by country and state of origin, with glass boxes filled with memorabilia specific to the movement in that region.

The next space in the exhibit goes a little further into how the artist’s work was affected by Riot Grrl. A hot pink banner stitched with the words, “Mom knows now” hangs several feet down the wall, by the artist L.J Roberts.

On the other side of the expansive room, life size sculptures of wooly, monster-esque creatures with over-exaggerated features by Toronto-based artist Allyson Mitchell stand in front of a series of black and white photos depicting hand lettered signs with feminist sayings projected on a white wall.

Portraits of slept-in beds
Portraits of slept-in beds

The gallery also features many other pieces of artwork, like a collection of book inscriptions, and a photo series depicting slept-in beds of couples.

If you’re looking for a cool, edgy, and campy trip to the city with your pals, then this gallery is for you. The gallery entrance fee is just $8 dollars for students, and YBCA galleries is easily accessible by Muni or Uber.