Andrea Bowers is a Los Angeles-based political artist and social activist, whose work includes video, drawing, and installations, which deal with issues such as: illegal immigration, the spoiling of native lands, abortion, and oil drilling. For Bowers, activism and art are inseparable.
Bowers left New York and moved west in 1990 to study at the California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita where she learned about Conceptualism from artists like Charles Gaines and feminist art history from Suzanne Lacy.
Bowers’ focus on individual voices can be seen in her 2009 video “Circle” where four generations of native Alaskan women speak about their relationships with non-native activists, who are against oil drilling in the Arctic. Her video work reveals the way marginalized people create a refuge for themselves in dire political times. Her use of negative space in her drawings of women as they participate in marches, rallies, and protests, leaves these women isolated and vulnerable as she removes individual figures from their original context.
A committed political and social activist, Bowers documents her participation in tree sits in 2009 and 2011. Bowers directly engages with people in her gallery spaces as in her 2009 show “Mercy Mercy Me” and again in later shows in 2011. Issues of immigration and death are dealt with in her “No Olvidado,” a 10-foot tall, 96-foot long drawing, that lists the names of the hundreds of people who have died while trying to cross the Mexico/U.S. border.
Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum hung her 50 foot mural depicting banks – one of which was Wells Fargo a donor to the museum – that funded the Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Bowers’ new works were done on found cardboard and combined drawings of sycamore leaves with quotations from European eco-feminists. The purpose of these works was to describe the interweaving of the politics of feminism with the politics of ecological justice.
Her works have been shown in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, the 2008 California Biennial, and in galleries in Germany, Greece, Tokyo, and the United States. Her book art piece, “Labor Is Entitled to All It Creates,” was shown June through October 2018 at the Getty Center. Presently her work is being featured in a retrospective at the Hammer Museum. When a visitor enters the first gallery he/she is greeted with a bold feminist statement, “My Body My Choice Her Body Her Choice.” This introduces her overtly feminist artwork.
Her art is in the permanent collections of The Whitney Museum of American Art, Tate Modern, Brooklyn Museum, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, and Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art.