Another example of an artistic exploration of space and physical boundaries, working to build community health is expressed in the Women's collective Women Beyond Borders . (WBB), is a cross cultural exhibition connecting women around the world. Women Beyond Borders is an unprecedented grassroots collaboration involving over 500 artists and sponsors, that originated in Santa Barbara, California in 1992. Collaborators contacted curators in 30 countries who each invited up to twelve women artists to participate. Each artist received an identical, miniature, wooden box as a point of departure. The boxes -- historically symbolic of a gift, vessel, shrine, treasure, and hope -- have been transformed in a myriad of ways via sculpture, painting, mixed media and photography. The celebration of the results of this endeavor has included many forms and exhibition spaces from shopping malls and community centers to internationally recognized museum spaces.
Women Beyond Borders is a timely endeavor trying to bring together women's visions at the end of the century. It affects and engages people as it travels around the world cutting across all borders -- physical, political, religious, racial. It is about dialogue, a gathering of women as they identify and speak for themselves. As Jony Waite, Curator National Museum, Nairobi, Kenya, remarks: "What a lovely, simple yet important, idea. In Kenya, women have been subjugated for years as chattel, but recently many have begun finding their voices and power. It is good to see. WBB is an enormous step in enriching and connecting us."
Investigating boundary, physical space, and engaging community is at the heart of this project. Again, the artistic creation and exploration of a simple physical space- a box, has transformed not only the artists but also the community around them. WBB has traveled around the world and been viewed by thousands. It has sparked community initiatives and learning. For example, some community centers in the host countries have invited school children of all ages to participate by creating expressive interpretations of their own boxes.
WBB continues and welcomes new curators and countries to join its community. They can be reached at: (www.womenbeyondborders.org ) or by email [email protected]
TOP IMAGE: 'Wired-fe-mail' - Victoria Vesna
BOTTOM: 'L'occhio' - Mailu Eustachio