Visual arts head wins activist award

Scott Nussbaum

Visual Arts Department Head Cheri Gaulke will receive the “Art is a Hammer” award Oct. 20 from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics for her activism through art.
A reception will take place in Hollywood at the Professional Musicians Union Local 47 where Gaulke and her partner Sue Maberry will receive the award. An auction of vintage posters and original artworks will also take place.

The awards presentation will also include a live band performance and a presentation on art activism.

“I am very honored and am especially proud to be receiving it with my life partner as so much of the work we have done has been together,” Gaulke said. “I am also excited for our presenter to describe a narrative that shows a through line of my 1970s feminist art activism through to the work I do at Harvard Westlake today.”

Gaulke has worked on numerous projects, including the Righteous Conversations Project, which connects teenagers to Holocaust survivors and the school video journalism trip to Laos.

She will also partner this year with English teacher Malina Mamigonian to mentor students participating in an independent study class focusing on gender studies and feminism. Participants will explore the art history of feminism through examining print and video sources.

“The organization that is giving the award, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, will be a great resource to the school,” Gaulke said. “I hope to structure a project around using their archives for students to learn about political posters and curate a show of posters at Harvard-Westlake as well as design posters of their own.”

Gaulke will show her video “The Tapping of the Third Realm” Sept. 22 as part of an art activism exhibition at the Otis College of Art and Design gallery in Westchester, Calif.

The public exhibition will play the video, which follows 33 artists, in a nonstop loop at the gallery. The video focuses on the artist’s spirituality and ideas on magic, witchcraft and the afterlife influence their paint and sculpture pieces.

Gaulke’s piece will focus on how she uses nature and spirit in her art.

“Some threads that run through all my work are giving voice to those who do not have a voice, whether that is war survivors, teens or survivors of domestic abuse, and creating a context for others to express themselves and using my work to give visibility to social issues such as marriage equality, environmental issues, social inequities, gender stereotypes and other prevalent issues in society,” Gaulke said.