Curated by Maymanah Farhat.
Poetry Is Not a Luxury considers how book arts have contributed to the recording of oppositional subjectivities in the U.S. The exhibition is titled after Audre Lorde’s 1977 essay on the intersections of creativity and activism that were not only essential to her own work but to a diverse group of feminist thinkers at the time. Recognizing that both creative work and activism are driven by subjectivity, Lorde argues that for women poetry is not a luxury but a vital necessity, as it provides a framework through which survival and the desire for change can be articulated, conceptualized, and transformed into meaningful action.
Poetry is Not a Luxury features artists who approach book arts in a similar way, namely as experimental media that foreground subjectivity and lend to intimate aesthetic experiences with the aim of drawing attention to sociopolitical issues. Since the mid twentieth century, artist books, broadsides, mail art, and zines have been essential to artists seeking to bring greater awareness to ongoing marginalization and oppression (e.g. incarceration, gentrification, immigration, and war), arguably due to the widely recognizable and accessible nature of these art forms.