Alien She & Fred Tomasselli at the Orange County Museum of Art


LJ Roberts

At the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) you can experience both art and politics without realizing it. The new show Alien She features the work of seven artists and highlighs  the lasting impact of the pioneering punk feminist movement Riot Grrrl on today’s artists and cultural producers.  Thru music, art, performance and video these artists express their views emphasizing female and youth empowerment conjuring the possibilities of identity, self determination and subversion.

History of Riot Grrrl: “Formed in reaction to sexism, racism, and homophobia in the punk music scene and in the culture at large, Riot Grrrl emerged in the early 1990s and inspired many people around the world to pursue socially and politically progressive careers as artists, activists, authors, and educators. This self-organized network made up of teenagers and twenty-somethings reached one another through various platforms, such as letters, zines, local meetings, regional conferences, homemade videos, and later, chat rooms, listservs and message boards. The movement in Southern California was (and continues to be) active, with music shows, meetings, and benefits throughout Orange County at places like Koo’s Café in Santa Ana, UC Irvine, all-ages club Chain Reaction in Anaheim, the Huntington Beach Library, Stab You In The Back Records in Costa Mesa, YWCA in Orange, and many house shows.

Emphasizing female and youth empowerment, collaborative organization, creative resistance, and DIY ethics, Riot Grrrl helped a new generation to become active feminists who created their own culture and communities to reflect their values and experiences”. (from the OCMA site)

I especially liked the use of materials. Sculptural objects are re-created using “women’s work materials” like knitting and crochet. Loved the metaphorical chain-linked fence topped with barbed wire by L. J. Roberts interpreted in pink yarn done on a Barbie knitting machine.  This structure creates a barrier that is imposing yet seems non- threatening and makes you think about the contradictions.

After seeing Alien She I realized what an impact Riot Grrl had in the 1990’s, and it is fun to revisit this art and social movement that influenced multiple generations, and to explore its influence on the region.


In Fred Tomaselli : The Times the artist transforms the images on the front page with paint and collage to create a dialogue. Transforming bad news into good or any news into the artists pure imagination. Scattered throughout the exhibition there are larger examples of Tomaselli’s work in collage covered in resin that give the viewer an opportunity to see close up images from field guides, fashion magazines and scientific or medical works decontextualized.

Tomaselli grew up in Southern California and was influenced by the manufactured reality of theme parks and the drug counter culture of the 1970’s and 1980’s. His work seems to have a great deal of information above and below the surface allowing both the artist and the viewer the opportunity to be free and maybe even break some rules in the process.

Both shows are on from Feb. 15th– May 25th, 2015

Hours at OCMA: Wednesday – Sunday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM // FREE on Friday from 11:00AM to 8:00 PM // Mon and Tues CLOSED