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Changing the narrative: Artists unite to create ‘Plates Against Patriarchy’ at Harwood Art Center

“Plates Against Patriarchy,” “Warrior,” porcelain, 2019, by Helen Atkins, Jordyn Bernicke and Monique Rivera.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A trio of female artists wanted to live in a world where women do not have to bond over patriarchal horror stories.

So Helen Atkins, Jordyn Bernicke and Monique Rivera joined together to organize a project of pottery portraits and stories that blossomed into the community.

The results, “Plates Against Patriarchy,” opens at the Harwood Art Center on Friday, Sept. 6, and runs through Sept. 26.

The stories bristle with misogyny, objectification and sexism. The plates celebrate the resilience of women in portraits orbited in floral designs and calligraphy.

“We were always trying new things and pushing each other,” said Bernicke, who draws the background florals and calligraphy.

“I always felt like I needed to defend my work at all times with other teachers or students at UNM.”

“Plates Against Patriarchy,” Erica Garcia, porcelain, 2019, by Helen Atkins, Jordyn Bernicke and Monique Rivera.

Atkins creates the portraits; Rivera throws the plates.

“I did a portrait of each of us, and we told our own stories,” Atkins said.

The three artists set up a website with an open call to Albuquerque women online and in print.

“Any women who wanted to share their picture and their story, we were going to make a plate for them,” Atkins said.

The call drew everything from doctors to producers and professors to singers.

Erica Garcia is an emergency room doctor who still has to defend her role to disbelieving patients.

“Plates Against Patriarchy” (Helen Atkins, Jordyn Bernicke, & Monique Rivera), Dolores, porcelain plate, 2019

“She talks about the lack of respect she gets as a female doctor,”Atkins said. “When she enters the room, she still has to explain that she’s not the nurse.”

The confusion is compounded when Garcia wears makeup; her plate depicts her in a dual portrait both with and without it. She has stopped wearing skirts to work.

“Pink or Blue” addresses the traditional color divisions for boys and girls. The subject, Jacklyn Le, soon realized pink was more than a color; it was a submissive role she was expected to adopt as her brothers learned to talk back.

“But no matter what norm, role, or what society says I have to be, pink is just a diluted red,” she writes.

“Patriarchy Warrior” shows the face of Christina Del Rosario who dressed as a tomboy to protect herself from daily attacks on the way to and from school. She was a classically trained cellist spitting hardcore anti-sexism lyrics and winning battle raps against the boys in her high school’s student center. As a single mother, her goal is to raise her two boys to treat women as equals.

The Harwood’s front gallery features women nominated by the community as matriarchs.

The artists chose Dolores Cordova as the focal point for her work as a nurse at Clinica La Esperanza Clinic in the South Valley.

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