Patrons came in droves to Benson’s Petshop Art Gallery Saturday night to celebrate local art and women’s rights.
Accessorized with free admission, free condoms, free “nasty women mix” CD’s and free water bottles, the Nasty Women Omaha gallery quickly filled with guests from all walks of life. The only price-stamped items were the pieces of art themselves; all priced $100 or below and made to entirely benefit Voices of Hope, a nonprofit aimed at helping those affected by sexual violence.
The gallery’s small hallways—although echoing constant “excuse me’s”— shared a sentiment of collective anger, frustration and empowerment. Attendees buzzed from piece to piece, some depicting fear and anger in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency, others focused more on a level of pure girl power.
According to the event’s Facebook page, the show was a pop-up sister exhibit of Nasty Women exhibitions all over the country, stemming from the original New York City brain child. The Omaha scene was co-organized by artists Nicole Hulstein and Jacquline Smith and quickly gained traction.
University of Nebraska at Omaha senior Savannah Savick was among interested community members. She showcased and sold some of her prints at the one-night-only event. Her piece, “Bloom” showed a uterus entirely made of flowers and was originally made of colored pencil and acrylic paint.
“Bloom was specifically inspired by a friend who gave me the idea,” Savick said. “I wanted to make uteruses less ugly and alien-like. Everyone kind of hates their uterus and I wanted to make it more happy-looking. I am also planning on adding a penis made of flowers, as well, and the two pieces would be advertised together.”
Savick said she originally saw the event’s Facebook page and wanted to attend but realized she had her own work to contribute. With a simple comment on the social media platform, she was in. Whatever prints did not sell at the show, Savick planned to hang on the UNO campus to spread the message of inclusivity and appreciation.
Along with a personal and political tie to the local art scene, attendees could even make their own art at a table set up with bins of stencils, crayons and markers. This table was a cornerstone collection of small-scale protest posters and a photo op for the artists themselves. Beneath posters that read “My Body, My Choice” and “Maybe It’s Time for Women to be In Charge” was a tower of tampons and sanitary napkins for women in need around the community.
As people shuffled from piece to piece and through doors and corridors, others lined outside at a Beyond BBQ food truck and shook hands with soon-to-be friends. Whether individuals were entering the open house with wide eyes or exiting with hands full, the cool winter air continuously blew through the building’s doors, carrying with it a sweet and seemingly rare resonance: you are welcome here.