Saturday, April 22 2017 • 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm • Viaduct Gallery

OPENING RECEPTION + PERFORMANCE for our April-May Exhibit, “To(get)her by Artist Jessica Pleyel



Jessica Pleyel is a conceptual artist and curator from Grand Rapids, MI. Her work is an exploration of the powerful connections of family and communities, and art-based activism’s role within the intersectional feminist community. She investigates how connections between advocates, activists, family and communities form and how individual voices become empowered and brazened when brought together through collaboration. Pleyel explores these and further themes through an interdisciplinary approach of performance, sculpture, storytelling, installation and video.


Whether it is repairing and creating a strong relationship with her father, advocating alongside other sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, or searching for the legacy of her Cajun grandmother Beulah along with the five hundred others in the mass unmarked grave in post-Katrina New Orleans, an imperative aspect of Pleyel’s work is igniting dialogues on some of the wicked complications in our society.  


Pleyel’s work has been exhibited internationally in galleries such as The Article Gallery in Birmingham, United Kingdom, The Beauty and Brawn Gallery in Chicago, Illinois, and Feast Arts Center in Tacoma, Washington. She has received awards such as the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, the Obermann Graduate Senior Fellowship, and the Ana Mendieta Memorial Scholarship. She is currently researching and teaching Sculpture, Intermedia and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa.


Artist Statement:

To(get)her is a collaborative performance and installation in which self-identifying women from a variety of backgrounds destroy wax assault rifles with domestic tools and their bodies. These guns act as a metaphor for the violence that happens to many women on a daily basis. One in four women will encounter domestic violence and one in six women will be raped in their lifetimes in the United States. In total, over 61 million women in the US have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence or both, and every 16 hours a woman is shot and killed by her partner.


Not only are many of our bodies attacked mentally, physically and sexually, but the government also stakes claims on our bodies. With 138 representatives and 31 senators voting against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and many of those same politicians voting against stricter gun regulations it is apparent that these politicians do not see it problematic that women’s bodies are so often targets.


Throughout the past two years, there have been five iterations of the To(get)her project, with over 75 women participating. When women come together, their connections are empowering, fierce, sometimes gentle and always meaningful. As women, we may be targeted but when we are together and our voices are loud– and in unison we are strong.


The office of Senator Joe Biden drafted VAWA in 1994 with support from a broad coalition of advocacy groups. VAWA improves criminal justice responses to violence, ensures that survivors and their families have access to the services they need to safely rebuild their lives, and helps diminish domestic and sexual violence.


VAWA was reauthorized by bipartisan majorities in Congress in 2000 and again in 2005. The Act’s 2012 renewal was opposed by conservative republicans who objected extending the Act’s provisions to Native Americans, same-sex couples and provisions for undocumented immigrants. Ultimately, VAWA was reinstated in 2013 after a long legislative battle throughout 2012-2013.


VAWA will once again be up for re-authorization in 2018, and many of these representatives and senators will be voting again.


Please help us confront these political figures via Twitter/Postcards/Phone Calls. Their contact information is in the zine Those Who Target Us.



Project Initiated by: Jessica Pleyel


We are extremely excited to welcome Jessica and this exhibit to the Viaduct Gallery! This show will be up from April 22nd – May 16th. All purchases of original work will go to Jessica and the DMSC. Don’t miss it!


Artist’s Website:


RSVP to Artist Talk: