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March 8, 2009
© Guerrilla Girls
© Guerrilla Girls



Pittsfield, MA, March 1, 2009 — In conjunction with the 1st Annual Berkshire Festival of Women in the Arts, The Storefront Artist Project announces the opening of Radical Detour, an exhibition featuring the work of recognized women artist activists who are trailblazing creative new routes towards public awareness and radical change on important issues such as global warming, racism, gender issues and human rights.  Included in the exhibition are Peggy Diggs, Eve Ensler, The Guerrilla Girls, Beverly Naidus, and Gabrielle Senza.

“Radical Detour offers unique perspectives in creating awareness,” states exhibition curator, Gabrielle Senza. “The exhibition examines the process of inspiring both thought and action by some of the nation’s most effective artist-activists who’s work focuses on the many challenging issues facing us today.”

A public reception will be held Friday, March 6, from 6:00 – 8:00pm, with a poetry reading at 6:15pm by author, Karen Chase from her most recent book, Bear.

The exhibition runs through March 29.
  Gallery Hours: Saturday and Sunday 12:00 – 5:00 pm.
 124 Fenn Street, Pittsfield 

Inspired by the title of this year’s theme for the International Women’s Day conference at Simon’s Rock and organized by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, “The Power of Women in the Arts”, the exhibition’s curator, Gabrielle Senza decided to raise awareness on the powerful women artist-activists she was familiar with in the arts.  Having worked with and been inspired by many of these artists, Senza felt it was important for anyone interested in the Women in the Arts Festival to become acquainted with the work of women who are using their creative voices as instruments for change, using the visual and performing arts to draw attention to issues that are frequently ignored or misunderstood.

Karen Chase will be reading poems from her recelntly published book, Bear.

Karen lives in The Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. Her poems, stories and essays have appeared in many magazines, including The Gettysburg Review, The New Yorker, The New Republic and Southwest Review. Her book of poems, Kazimierz Square, was short-listed by Foreword Magazine as “Best Indie Poetry Book of 2000.” Land of Stone, her non-fiction book about her work as Poet-in-Residence at a psychiatric hospital came out in 2007, and was named a Best Book of 2007 by Chronogram and won a Bronze medal  in the 2008 Independent Publishers Book Awards (The Ippy Award).

Her work has been widely anthologized, including poems in The Norton Introduction To Poetry, The Norton Introduction To Literature, Poetry 180: A Turning Back To Poetry edited by Billy Collins, Yellow Silk: Erotic Arts and Letters, The Second Set: The Jazz Poetry Anthology edited by Yusef Komunyakaa and Sascha Feinstein, and Thus Spake The Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader, 1988-1998 Volume 1 edited by Andrei Codrescu. Her story The Resurrections of Isaac Bashevis Singer received a citation as one of the “100 Distinguished Stories of 1993” in Best American Short Stories. Her essay Learning to Shoot received a citation in Best American Essays 2006.

Among her honors, she has been a Fellow at The MacDowell Colony, The Sanskriti Foundation, and at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. She has been the recipient of numerous grants, including several from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry and The Rockefeller Foundation. For over a decade, Chase was the Poet-in-Residence at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, teaching poetry writing to severely disturbed psychiatric patients and doing research. From 1991 until 2004, she ran the Camel River Writing Center and has served on the resident faculty of The Robert Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire. She now serves as a trustee of The Amy Clampitt Fund, whose mission is to benefit poetry and the literary arts.

The artists featured in RADICAL DETOUR include:

Peggy Diggs
Artist activist Peggy Diggs of Williamstown, MA is no stranger to activism and public art. A graduate of Cranbook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI (MFA), George Washington University with the Corcoran School of Art, (BA), and a student at the Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque, NM, she has addressed women’s issues, the justice system, and social issues in the US and abroad for more than 25 years, through public art projects, public speaking, and writing.

Diggs’ work has taken her to US prisons, urban public schools, city streets, and college campuses. She has designed posters distributed in 36 subway stations in Caracas, Venezuela and in major US cities, created murals and banners in the US, Canada, and abroad, and worked with teens, the incarcerated, senior citizens, and others to create public art addressing such wide ranging issues as domestic violence, homelessness, and disaster preparedness. Her work has been viewed in many one-person exhibitions and invitational shows from New England to Florida.

A public project “can be as anonymous and hit-and-run as a Guerrilla Girl poster, says Diggs, “Or it can have … site-specific social relevance, like a bar coaster concerning domestic violence distributed to and with support from taverns.”

Eve Ensler
Playwright, performer, and activist, Eve Ensler is the author of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, a play based on Ensler’s interviews with more than 200 women of all ages and nationalities, which celebrates women’s sexuality and strength. The play grew into V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls; Ensler has devoted her life to stopping violence against women and girls, and the movement supports anti-violence organizations around the world. The play has been translated into over 45 languages and performed in over 120 countries, including Off-Broadway’s Westside Theater, London’s West End, and many countries in the Middle East and Asia. The play and V-Day have become an annual worldwide event. In 2008, more than 4000 V-Day benefit events were performed in theaters, community centers, houses of worship, and college campuses around the world, educating millions of people about violence against women and girls and raising funds for local groups within their communities. Ms. Ensler’s performance in THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES can be seen in the HBO 2002 documentary about the play. The Berkshire Art Kitchen will present a screening of an uplifting documentary on Ensler’s work to stop violence against women and girls around the world in Until The Violence Stops on March 12 in Great Barrington.

The Guerrilla Girls
A group of anonymous women art activists formed in 1985 to expose sexism, racism, and corruption in politics, art, film, and pop culture, and to bring about social change around the world. They assumed the names of dead women artists and wore gorilla masks in public, concealing their identities and focusing on the issues. Between 1985 and 2000, close to 100 women, working collectively and anonymously, produced provocative posters, billboards, public actions, books and other projects to make feminism funny while attacking social issues and injustice. Projects included anti-film industry billboards in Hollywood during the Oscar award announcements, large-scale posters or banners at the Venice Biennale, and anonymous underground initiatives in Istanbul, Rotterdam, Sarajevo, Shanghai, Mexico City, and New York where they challenged MOMA’s Feminist Futures Symposium. They have appeared at more than 90 universities and museums and in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Bitch, and Artforum; on NPR, the BBC and CBC; and in many art and feminist texts. Books include The Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art and Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls’ Guide to Female Stereotypes.

Beverly Naidus
A visual and installation artist for 30 years, and a tenured professor with an international reputation, Naidus has worked with mediums ranging from interactive, site-specific installations to digitally rendered artist’s books. Themes have included the powerlessness caused by nuclear nightmares, desperation and alienation of unemployment, frustrations with and fears about the environmental crisis, socially engaged spiritual practice, the healing of body hate, and questions about popular media and its influence on our lives.
With an MFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design and a bachelors in Studio Art from Carleton College, she has taught at several museums in New York City (including MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art), worked as Dayton Hudson Distinguished Visiting Artist at Carleton College in Minnesota, and Associate Professor of Art at California State University, Long Beach where she was tenured. Naidus’ work has been exhibited in such diverse places as the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in NYC, and the Armand Hammer Museum at UCLA. Her work has been discussed in books by Suzi Gablik, Lucy R. Lippard, Paul Von Blum, and Lisa Bloom, and in journals including the New York Times, the LA Times, the Utne Reader, Z Magazine, Art Forum, and Art in America. She has written for Radical Teacher Magazine, the New Art Examiner, and will be in an upcoming book about teaching art for social change. She has published two books, One Size Does Not Fit All (1993) and What Kinda Name is That? (1996). Today, she and her husband and son live on Vashon Island, WA, where she is creating an interdisciplinary curriculum with the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program of the University of Washington/Tacoma. The curriculum will focus on art for social change and healing.

Gabrielle Senza
Internationally recognized, Berkshire-based artist, Gabrielle Senza, has explored the miracles of nature, time and personal journeys throughout her prolific career as a multi-media artist and activist.

Included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA New York, Lifetime Entertainment, JP Morgan Chase and Fidelity Investments, among others, Gabrielle Senza’s work has been exhibited in solo and traveling group shows throughout the United States and abroad.  She has taught art privately and as an adjunct professor at Bard College of Simon’s Rock, Cooper Union, IS183 and Mass MoCA.

Senza’s installation and multi-media work conveys powerful messages that raise awareness on social and environmental issues and help to inspire both consciousness and change.  In 2001 she was invited to participate in Toxic Landscapes: Artists Examine The Environment, a traveling exhibition featuring many of the country’s top environmental artists organized by The Puffin Foundation. In 2002 Senza founded The Red Collaborative, a national grassroots organization devoted to empowering survivors of physical, sexual and emotional abuse through collaborative public art projects and creative initiatives.

Gabrielle Senza is the founder and director of the recently opened Berkshire Art Kitchen, a gallery, studio and gathering place in Great Barrington, MA that offers unique opportunities for creativity, connection and change.

RADICAL DETOUR offers unique perspectives in creating awareness and inspiring both thought and action by some of the nation’s most effective artist-activists who’s work focuses on the most challenging issues facing us today.  The exhibition will run through March 29th at the Storefront Artist Project, 124 Fenn Street in Pittsfield, MA.  Tel. 413-442-7201

Founded in 2002 by artist Maggie Mailer, and The Storefront Artist Project focuses on giving artists and art an ongoing presence in the public mind through exhibitions, storefront studios and student-artist mentorships.  In contributing to the health of its hometown community, Storefront has established itself as a model for revitalization in cities around the country.

For additional information on RADICAL DETOUR, contact exhibition curator, Gabrielle Senza at 413.717.0031 or

For more information on the Berkshire Festival of Women in the Arts and a complete listing of festival events throughout the county, visit:

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