"Wake Up Little Susie" is a collaboration between historian Rickie Solinger, and artists Cathleen Meadows, Kay Obering, and Kathy Hutton. The work explores pregnancy, race and power in postwar America before the 1973 legalization of abortion.
The installation is based on Solinger's award-winning books Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade and The Abortionist: A Woman Against the Law. According to Solinger, in the post World War II era (1945-65), unwed mothers were defined as deviants and threats to the social order. There was also a difference in how white and black girls were treated by families, social agencies and the government.
The artists use a giant chess game as a metaphor for mapping the relative social positions of black and white single mothers, and those who exploited, helped or judged them during the era just before abortion was legalized.
"Warnings," by Lisa Link includes computer-montage posters and a video component. It focuses on contemporary threats to women's reproductive freedom. Link was inspired by the Supreme Court's 1989 Webster v. R.H.S. decision, and the acts of violence on women's health clinics over the last several years. Her work is viscerally direct in the tradition of political poster art.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Link will present a Gallery Talk on Friday, Feb. 7, at 4:30 p.m., and a workshop on Saturday, Feb. 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is required for the workshop. Both events will take place at the Emerson Gallery.
On Thursday, Feb. 13, Solinger will discuss, Pregnancy and Power: Women's Struggle over Time, at 4:30 p.m. in Dwight Lounge Bristol Campus Center. The lecture is free and open to the public. Solinger's book Wake Up Little Susie won the Lerner-Scott Prize from the Organization of American Historians and the Emily Toth Award from the American Popular Culture Association. The New York Times named it a "Notable Book of 1992." The Abortionist was named a 1994 "Critic's Choice" book by The Washington Post.
The Emerson Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 12 to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information or to register for the Link workshop, call the Gallery at 859-4396.