Graphic Activism

A curation of posters, newsletters, and zines from the collection.

The Lesbian Herstory Archives’ exhibit, Graphic Activism, features a selection of posters, newsletters, and zines from the largest collection of lesbian materials in the world. Beginning with the 1970’s, and including contributions from the Archives’ community of coordinators, volunteers and interns, Graphic Activism spans almost 50 years of lesbian activism.  Comprised of posters from across the United States, this exhibit celebrates lesbian arts and artists, including Leslie Feinberg’s Passing Fancy: Passing Women in Their Own Words and Rivers of Honey, a NYC-based, Woman of Color Arts Cabaret, and addresses such topics as gay teen suicide and AIDS activism.

The 1970’s screen prints of the Chicago-based Women’s Graphic Collective proclaim “Sisterhood is Powerful” and imprint a call to “Spinsters Crones Hags Sisters,” on the Amazon labrys. Zines by Shawn(ta) Smith Cruz and Sherley Olopherne detail the Archives collections by and about Black Lesbians decade by decade, while Elvis B’s drawings explore the idea of home, and how the Lesbian Herstory Archives, a radical archival space, manifests home for its communities. 

With their arresting visuals, this exhibit calls for recognition of lives and issues that have historically been ignored. From Tee Corinne’s solarized photograph of two lesbians embracing to an image of the world, overlaid with “The Future is Female,” they politicize the lesbian sphere of intimacy and record a half century of creative and activist response to a frequently violent and homophobic world. Each work represents a unique effort by lesbians to represent their politics and love both within their communities and in the public sphere.

Curated by
Elvis B.
Colette D. Montoya
Ann Pachner
Flavia Rando
Ashley-Luisa Santangelo
for the Lesbian Herstory Archives

Black background 11x17 poster of various lesbian buttons with a vertical crease in the center
Graphic Activism poster and cover of Lesbian Herstory Archives Newsletter #18, year 2001

Related Events

We’re Still Here: Growing Older Together with the Lesbian Herstory Archives
June 13, 2019
New-York Historical Society
Women’s History Salon

Graphic Activism
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Graphic Activism Panel: Lesbian Posters from 1970s to Today
The Graduate Center, CUNY

Exhibition Venues

New-York Historical Society

By the Force of Our Presence: Highlights from the Lesbian Herstory Archives
May 24 – December 1, 2019
Stonewall 50 exhibition

By the Force of Our Presence: Highlights from the Lesbian Herstory Archives, curated by the Lesbian Herstory Archives Graphics Committee, highlights community-building, organization, and networking within the LGBTQ movement with a focus on the contributions of lesbians and queer women. A grassroots organization established in 1974 in response to the widespread erasure of lesbian lives and voices, the Lesbian Herstory Archives houses the world’s largest collection of materials by and about lesbians. The exhibition features photographs, books and manuscripts, periodicals, posters, flyers, and clothes. 

Robert Blackburn Printmaking Gallery

Brooklyn College Library

Ace Hotel

Graduate Center Lobby and Graduate Center Library, City University of New York