The most-famous work by the Guerrilla Girls is simple and direct, asking: “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?”

The pointed text of the 1989 poster continues: “Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art Sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female.”

That work is more than a quarter-century old, but the Guerrilla Girls have updated it over the years – with the results just as discouraging. The 2011 version states that women represent 4 percent of the artists in the modern-art sections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art but 76 percent of the nudes.

The work gets more complex as one considers it.


Composer Cheryl Leonard

Claire Kovacs is in her third year as director of the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art, and she said that from the outset she needed to answer one question.

“One of the things that I’ve been thinking about since the moment that I even considered coming to Augustana,” she said, “was ‘What is the purpose of an art museum when the Figge is across the river?’”

The answer can be seen this month in a pair of free public events: the Guerrilla Girls’ January 18 lecture in Centennial Hall, and the January 11 performance collaboration of visual artist Oona Stern and composer Cheryl Leonard in Wallenberg Hall.

As an Augustana alum of so many years, I was excited to see the opening of the new Brunner Theatre Center on the Augie campus, and especially excited to see its current Othello under the direction of Jeff Coussens. The new theatre facility did not disappoint, and scenic and lighting designers Andy Gutshall and Adam Pfluger, respectively, created a memorable space for the production – minimally designed, yet replete with authentic Arabic graffiti and evocatively low, blue lighting.

"There's a hole in the world like a great black pit, and it's filled with people who are filled with shit. And the vermin of the world inhabit it, and it goes by the name of London."

No lyrics better summed up the setting for a musical than these particular lines from Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Augustana College's latest production delivers in filling the Potter Theatre with the polluted gloom and human hell that was 1840s London.

Megan Hammerer and Samuel Langellier in Getting Out, photo courtesy of the Augustana Photo BureauAugustana College’s Getting Out, directed by Jeff Coussens, is the story of one woman’s difficulties in reconstructing her life after being released from prison, and author Marsha Norman’s 1978 play is a brilliant depiction of life's realities for a woman who has been caught in a cycle of violence, beginning with abuse as a child. Although she served her time in prison and has been released, she now has the real “getting out” to do – getting out of her own psychological hell.

Jessica Holzknecht, Rowan Crow, and Keenan Odenkirk in As You Like It; photo courtesy of Augustana Photo Bureau/Nadia Panasky '17Director Jennifer Popple's decision to set her Augustana College production of As You Like It in the 1960s is one of the most appropriate changes in time-setting for theatrical material I've yet witnessed. Such shifts sometimes seem gimmicky, or are better in concept than execution, but here it works, and works well.

Jake Lyon and Emily Kate Long in the Love Stories piece Prelude to EternityWhat first struck me during February 18's performance of Ballet Quad Cities' Love Stories: Love on the Run was the venue, as Augustana College's Wallenberg Hall provided exactly the spatial experience I wanted for this series of balletic vignettes. There's a grandness to the architecture, particularly the Tuscan pillars, that lends itself to the high-art air of ballet, but there's also an intimacy there that allowed the audience to be close to the dancers, who performed on a raised platform. I often lost myself in the beauty, passion, and emotion of the choreographed works because I was so near to the action, and not separated by a sea of seats in a formal theatrical setting.

Siara Cooper

Augustana College's Wrestling with Angels & Demons approaches race, ethnicity, and racism from a personal perspective, as six people share their experiences - from first arriving at college to returning to one's homeland - with much humor and grace and very little anger. It's effective at addressing its issues in a nonconfrontational way, thoughtful, and - while dealing with a touchy subject - also quite enjoyable.