Inspired by the book Rad American Women: A-Z, Jennifer Crow, curator of the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children's Literature, Teresa Flores, instructor in the Department of Art and Design, and Dr. Larissa Mercado-Lopez, assistant professor of Women's Studies, collaborated to bring visibility to past and present Fresno State students and faculty who have demonstrated innovation, activism for underrepresented groups, political transformation and conscientious leadership.
The acceptance of women within higher education has not been one without struggle, and even today, women's intersectional experiences of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, etc., complicate the experiences of and within institutions of higher learning. As we read through Rad American Women, we could not help but think of our Fresno State students and colleagues who have left indelible marks on our campus, their communities, and in their fields. Thus, we decided to honor 13 of the many outstanding Fresno State women pioneers and innovators with the title of Rad Fresno State Women. Representing a wide range of identities and disciplines, these 12 women truly embody Fresno State's motto of "Discovery, Diversity, and Distinction" in their work and activism for women's advancement and social justice.
But how, exactly, do we make these women's lives visible? How can we share them with the students who benefit from their legacies today? These were the stories we asked ourselves as we sifted through the many names of accomplished Fresno State faculty, staff, and alumni. Just as the book Rad American Women disrupts male-centered narratives of history with their courageous and feminist women, we wanted to make visible the stories--and the faces--of women whose names are not emblazoned on the sides of academic buildings but who have been agents of transformation.
To those ends, Professor Teresa Flores proposed a campus-wide art installation featuring wheatpaste portraits of the radical women of Fresno State. She explains: "Visual culture students studied Rancier's theory of the Distribution of the Perceptible and its connection to street art, spectacle and the Fresno State campus. Not only was it important to bring to light the stories and images of the Rad Fresno State Women, it was just as important for me to create opportunities for my students to participate in the art production process. By bringing together students from every major on campus to draw, carve, print, digitize, and hang artwork collaboratively, we broke from our traditional roles of learning and participation to come together in the creation of a body of work. "
Dr. Larissa Mercado-Lopez enlisted the help of her Feminist Theory class to research and write the biographies that appear on this site. To further connect the project to the course content, Dr. Mercado-Lopez's class held a lively discussion session on incorporating feminist texts in the K-6 classroom with students in Dr. Lisa Bennett's literacy class, all of whom are in the teacher preparation program. The students discussed feminist approaches to children's literature, silence of women's voices/histories in textbooks, marginalizing effects of language, promotion of social justice, expanding concepts of diversity, and visual representations of diversity in picture books. They also engaged in a literacy art project in which they created an art piece in response to the story that they discussed. The purpose of this collaboration was to bring students into conversation with one another across the disciplines and to challenge Feminist Theory students to think of ways to make feminism accessible for young minds. This collaboration allowed all students to better understand the ideologies of gender and sexuality in children's literature that are shaping the minds, values, and belief systems of youth.
None of this would have been possible without Jennifer Crow at the helm of the project who researched and managed the selection process of the 12 women and successfully pursued approval from the administration for the project and the resources and staff of the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children's Literature. In addition to the outside space, she also secured walls in the library to bring the installation inside, making the pieces even more accessible to those with mobility concerns. From start to end, Jennifer Crow has ensured that the process has been guided by feminist principles that support diversity and democracy.
We are excited to share this project with you and encourage you to visit the portraits that are displayed throughout campus. To read the women's biographies, click "Biographies" here or at the top of the page.
Artist and creator of the feminist art collective at Fresno State.
Special Education educator and advocate, Fresno State alumna
Author, scholar, and co-founder of the Women's Studies Program
Fresno State professor of Chemistry, expert in neurodegenerative diseases, advocate for Asian American faculty and students
Former Fresno State student activist, farm labor advocate, community activist
Co-founder of the Women's Studies Program at Fresno State
LGBTQ activist, college professor, Fresno State alumna
Co-founder of the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles, professor of Communications, Fresno State alumna
Director of the Cross Cultural and Gender Center and Professor at Fresno State
Executive Director of the Fresno American Indian Health Project, Fresno State alumna
Poet, novelist, professor of Literature, Fresno State alumna
Alumna, current grad student, and curator of Hmong women's stories