ABOUT YES MA'AM:
WHEN: June 10, 2018; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
WHAT: YES MA’AM isn’t just an art show. It’s a way to empower women and celebrate an inclusive, feminine energy through artistic expression.
WHERE: The Bakery, 825 Warner St SW, Atlanta, GA 30310
WHY: This year, we are donating our profits to Feminist Women's Health Center - Atlanta!
We chose FWHC because they not only provide outstanding, sensitive and supportive reproductive health care services to all but they also strive to empower our community through educational initiatives while advocating for reproductive justice and reproductive rights in our community. They are currently lobbying for the ‘Women’s Health Protection Act,’ which would prohibit states across the country from passing baseless restrictions on abortion access.
WHO: Founded and organized by activists and artists Amanda Norris and Hannah Alexander.
A first year participant in the YES MA'AM show, Celeste Rodriguez draws on rich culture and generations of oppression when creating her oil paintings.
We chatted with her about her involvement with YES MA'AM, the "why" behind her art, machismo, and more.
Sad Girl Co.: Is this your first year involved with Yes Ma’am? How did you get involved?
Celeste Rodriguez: It is my first year. I was told by a friend who also goes to GCSU and plans to participate. She encouraged me to get involved and showed me the Instagram page.
SGC: What mediums do you primarily work with?
CR: I paint with mainly oil, but I also enjoy drawing with pen and acrylics.
SGC: How long have you been making art? How long have you been showing it?
CR: I have been artistic since I was a kid, but I didn’t become serious about it until high school. I began to show in my second year of college.
When asked about the way being a female has influenced her art, Rodriguez said, "I come from a family of strong women. My mother has always driven me to be independent, especially as a Mexican woman. She has witnessed a lot of oppression towards women and has influenced me to be strong."
SGC: A huge part of the Yes Ma’am show is the contribution to a worthy cause — usually a feminist one What are your feelings about this year’s proceeds going to the Atlanta Women’s Health Center?
CR: I fully support it! If it will help protect someone in receiving SAFE health care and in their right to choose what they do to their bodies.
SGC: Yes Ma’am gives a voice to a specific subset of people: Female / female-identifying artists in the South. Why is it important to have a space for such a specific group?
CR: The South has a certain culture. While I respect their morals, I think there is outdated expectations of women.
SGC: Being in the South and a female/feminist comes with its own challenges — do you agree? If so, what has your experience been?
CR: I agree, though I come from a Mexican back ground rather than Southern. But that itself is also a different experience. The Mexican culture is sometimes centered around machismo, but the newer generations are becoming more progressive. But growing up in Georgia, I see that both Southern culture and Mexican culture are heavily influenced by religion, and take the context into oppressing women.
Rodriguez is contributing her piece "WOMAN!" to this year's YES MA'AM show. The piece is a loud and proud statement about the expectation for women to "sit quietly and look pretty." In this painting, the subject is unapologetic and unafraid to broadcast who she is.
"It is an image of a woman pulling back her lower lip to proudly show her tattoo... Her fingers are in the shape of a V, a metaphor that her vagina will not be the reason that she is silenced."
SGC: Anything else you’d like to add about the show, your art, etc.?
CR: In my art I express my culture, feminism, psychological traumas, and social injustices. Art is how I communicate. I hope to start conversations and perhaps even teach someone something they did not know before. I hope to help others while doing what I love. Women need to help each other rise and I am so grateful to be a part of this show in efforts to do just that.