Graphic Activism: Lesbian Graphic Posters Exhibition

This summer as you walk through the halls of the Graduate Center first-floor main lobby and Library, you will notice images of circles as globes and buttons, women’s bodies, comic strips, hands massaging the earth, and bold font type with the repeated word: Lesbian.

You’re welcome.

The Graduate Center Library presents Graphic Activism, an exhibit of original activist posters from the Lesbian Herstory Archives graphics collection, zine excerpts, and comic art, from the 1970s to present day. The exhibit was curated and conceptualized months ago, fully supported by its GC co-sponsor, CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies. The installation began the first week of June, and with it we claim solidarity with the Pulse Orlando community and other queer spaces that have too often, tragically, come under violent attack. The images serve as herstorical reminders marking decades of community-building and activism. 

The exhibit’s installation at the Graduate Center was organized by Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, Assistant Professor and Head of Reference in conjunction with and the EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, and of course, the Lesbian Herstory Archives. Special thanks to the GC’s Christopher Lowery for his installation expertise.

Blackburn poster image

Graphic Activism display dates:
Graduate Center main lobby (affront the Segal Theater): June 2016 – September 2016
Graduate Center Library: June 2016 – December 2016
In case you only have time to walk by, below is information grabbed directly from the info-sheet.


The Lesbian Herstory Archives’ exhibit, Graphic Activism, is a selection of posters, newsletters, and zines from the largest collection of lesbian materials in the world. Beginning with the 1970s, and including contributions from the Archives’ community of coordinators, volunteers and interns, Graphic Activism spans 50 years of lesbian activism. This exhibit celebrates lesbian artists and activists, including Rivers of Honey, a NYC-based, Woman of Color Arts Cabaret, and Leslie Feinberg’s Passing Fancy: Passing Women in Their Own Words and addresses such topics as LGBTQ teen suicide and AIDS activism.

The 1970s screen prints of the Chicago-based Women’s Graphic Collective proclaim “Sisterhood is Powerful” and imprint a call to “Spinsters Crones Hags Sisters,” on the Amazon labrys. Zines by Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz and Sherley Olopherne detail decade by decade LHA subject files by and about Black Lesbians, while Elvis B’s drawings explore the idea of home, and how the Lesbian Herstory Archives, a radical archival space, becomes home for its communities.

With their arresting visuals, this exhibit calls for recognition of lives and issues that have historically been ignored. From Tee Corinne’s solarized photograph of  two lesbians embracing to a map of the world, overlaid with “The Future is Female” they politicize the lesbian sphere of intimacy and record a half-century of creative and activist response to a frequently misogynist and homophobic world. Each work represents a unique effort by lesbians to represent their politics and love within both their communities and the public sphere.

Graphic Activism is originally curated in 2016 by
Elvis B.,
Colette D. Montoya,
Ann Pachner,
Flavia Rando, and
Ashley-Luisa Santangelo
for the Lesbian Herstory Archives.

EFA Blackburn Printmaking Workshop – Spring 2016
ACE Hotel – June 2015

For interviews or additional information, please contact organizers:
Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz ( or Flavia Rando (

The Lesbian Herstory Archives (LHA) houses books and periodicals, graphics,zines, films and photographs, unpublished papers, conference proceedings, oral histories, CDs and vinyl, videos, t-shirts, banners, and buttons.  We hold the papers of notable authors, but welcome the collections of all who identify as lesbian. For more than forty years, the Archives, a necessary source for LGBTQ scholarly work, has been sustained by its communities and operated through the dedication of its volunteer workers and coordinators. Through a grass-roots approach, participation from diverse lesbian communities, and adherence to our guiding principles, LHA has developed a structure for preserving generations of lesbian life and political activism while remaining faithful to a revolutionary vision of participatory democracy.

About the Author

Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz is an Assistant Professor and Head of Reference at the Graduate Center Library.