Sisterhood Is Powerful: International Posters

Glasgow Women's Library

Here we delve into the GWL stores and take a look at the international posters that feature in our collection.

Like posters from the UK, the international posters in the GWL collection are concerned with promotion, participation and protest.

This poster, produced by The American Association of University Women for National Women's History Month in March 1987, calls attention to the gender pay gap.

With recent media attention around the current gender pay gap and mandatory reporting, this poster is as relevant today as it was in 1987.

This poster was created by the Chicago Women's Graphics Collective in 1976. The Collective was organised in 1970 to create posters for the growing women's liberation movement.

The founders of the Graphics Collective wanted their new feminist art to be a collective process in order to set it apart from the male-dominated Western art culture. Each poster was created by a committee of 2 to 4 women led by the artist/designer.

Another group of international poster-producing feminist activists are The Guerrilla Girls. Over 55 people have been members over the years, some for weeks, some for decades. 

The Guerrilla Girls wear gorilla masks in public and use facts, humor and outrageous visuals to expose gender and ethnic bias as well as corruption in politics, art, film, and pop culture. They have stated that their anonymity keeps the focus on the issues, and away from who they might be.

This poster from 1989 is based on the painting Odalisque and Slave by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

This version shows a woman in a gorilla mask reclining, accompanied by the facts: ‘Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art Sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female’.

This poster was originally designed to be a billboard commissioned by the Public Art Fund in New York, but when it was rejected the Guerrilla Girls rented advertising space on New York City buses and ran it themselves.

The bus company eventually cancelled the advertisement, stating - according to the Guerrilla Girls - that the image 'was too suggestive and that the figure appeared to have more than a fan in her hand.’

As well as bringing gender and racial inequality into focus within the arts community, the Guerrilla Girls' work raises concerns and observations on numerous topics.

The gender pay gap comes up again in this poster. Here the Guerrilla Girls look specifically at the earnings of women artists in 1985.

The Guerrilla Girls 'believe in an intersectional feminism that fights discrimination' and many of their posters comment on the lack of diversity in mainstream museums and art galleries.

The Guerrilla Girls continue to produce work today, often reproducing versions of these classic posters with updated statistics.

The 2012 version of this poster, originally created in 1989, updated the statistics to: Less than 4% of the artists in the Modern Art Sections are women, but 76% of the nudes are female.

This poster is from the Spanish International Day of Gay Pride in 1981.

The poster declared that there can be no freedom for lesbians without freedom for women.

These posters reflect a small number of the huge array of international posters that feature in the GWL collection. They powerfully display the universal nature of the fight for women's rights and the need for an intersectional feminism to tackle the many issues that are still relevant today.
Credits: Story

This exhibition has been curated, designed and produced by Kirsty McBride. Kirsty is a designer working in Glasgow and was GWL’s first Visual Communication Designer in Residence in 2015/16.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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