Founders of the Spooky Boobs Collective create feminist art

Language, design highlight women's experiences
Founders of the Spooky Boobs Collective create feminist art
Courtesy of the artists

“Oh, what beautiful designs,” visitors might think as they approach wallpaper created by Amy Cannestra, Myszka Lewis and Maggie Snyder. But as they take a closer look, they’ll notice words embedded in the repeating patterns. Bossy. Bitchy. Darling. Drama Queen. Sensitive. Skank.

As founders of the Spooky Boobs Collective, Cannestra, Lewis and Snyder use language, design, performance and art to highlight the “trivialization of women’s experiences.”

The women bonded as MFA students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, sharing stories about sexist treatment they’d witnessed or experienced. They wanted to respond through art – to draw attention to the actions, behaviors and language that perpetuate sexism – and the collective provided a way to take on the topic collaboratively.

“It also felt like a good place to have reinforcements,” Snyder says. “There’s more power in working together.”

Spooky Boobs turned up the volume with “You Have the Right to Remain a ___.” In the performance art project, an “officer” interrupts unsuspecting passersby and “arrests” them for violating a societal norm. Participants are given their charge, photographed and released with permission to remain confident. Or introverted. Or a prude. Or a feminist. Or a different label heaped on someone who goes against the patriarchal grain.

“We’re trying to reach people with approachable methods and make art an experience for everyone,” Lewis says.

The trio is currently developing a card game using nongendered insult words – a new way to shine a light on how language can fuel sexism.

“It’s really important that we make feminist art,” Cannestra says. “This is such a powerful message we can share.”