This collection includes the records, written works, collected writings, and photographs that document the development of the Houston Gorilla Girls, an anonymnous women’s art collective that protested sexism and racism in the art world from the 1987 to the late nineties. There are nine series, spanning from 1985 to 2000 which are entitled as follows: Correspondence; Organizational Documents and Photographs; Propaganda; Diverse Works Installation: Another Dead Horse; Rice University Installation at the Sewell Gallery: “Been Down So Long Feels Like Up To Me”; Other Gorilla Girls Installations and Shows: 1988-1997; Miscellaneous Clippings, Photographs, Articles, and Correspondence; New York City Guerrilla Girls; and Guerrilla/Gorilla Girls, Other Cities.
The collection is housed in ten boxes, eight of which contain original costumes and installation material.
Digital surrogates of two VHS cassette tapes, "No Going Back" and "Diverseworks February 17, 1988" and three audiocassettes, "1991 Burning Bush," "Installation Tape Used in Kitchen," and "Mission Impossible" are available to view on the Special Collections Reading Room computer.
Open for research.
Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian. Reproduction decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis.
10.0 Linear Feet
In the Spring of 1985, the walls of Lower Manhattan’s Soho and West Village neighborhoods became plastered with “Public Service Announcements” railing against sexism in the art world. At the bottom of each poster was stamped:
“The Guerilla Girls
Conscience of the art world.”
The anonymous art collective of gorilla-masked women that was behind the feminist propaganda campaign began appearing soon thereafter at well-known museums and galleries in New York City. The enigmatic hominid-clad protesters quickly gained notoriety and copycat groups began springing up in cities throughout North America.
In May of 1987, one such group, the self-styled Houston “Gorilla Girls,” made their first “hit” at the Glassell School of Art in Houston’s Museum District. They then went on to demonstrate against what they perceived as sexism and racism at high-profile Houston art venues such as the Menil, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Lawndale Arts Center.
The Houston Gorilla Girls’ string of “hits,” performances, and installations ran from 1987 to 1997, when they performed a final show in Verona, Italy at the Villa Carlotta. During their period of activity they became a fixture of the Houston arts scene and are credited with helping open its doors to more female and minority artists. To date, the identities and whereabouts of the Houston Gorilla Girls remain unknown.
Acquired from anonymous donor in 2010.
Part of the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections Repository