Miriam Klein Stahl came to the Bay Area in the late ‘80s seeking a community of queer punks that she’d read about in underground zines like Homocore. She wasn’t a musician, but she loved working with her hands and quickly realized that she could contribute to this thriving scene by drawing flyers and creating illustrations. Miriam’s rebellious passion infused her heavily politicized images with confrontational power and urgency.
More than three decades later, she’s still making radical art, but now her work is adorning museums as well as punk clubs. An entire wall of the Oakland Museum of California’s Hella Feminist exhibition is covered with 200 paper-cut portraits of “women/nonbinary humans whose lives and work intersect and impact the East Bay.” These figures range from Gilded Age bohemian poets and pre-WWII civil rights leaders to witches, welders, and high school activists.
The co-creator of this Hella Feminist portrait project is local author Kate Schatz, who Miram also collaborated with for a series of best-selling books such as “Rad American History A-Z” and “Rad Women Worldwide.” In this episode, Miriam discusses her philosophy of public art, her career as an art teacher at Berkeley High, and the histories of the women and nonbinary people featured in her illustrations. Listen to the full interview via Apple, SoundCloud, Spotify or wherever you get podcasts.
Below see a small selection of the portraits included in the Oakland Museum’s Hella Feminist exhibition, which will be on display until January 2023. The exhibition features a free zine, which includes bios, quotes, and/or further descriptions…
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