WGSS at 50: Our Histories, Intimacies, and Futures through Audre Lorde’s Uses of Anger

March 21-July 28, 2024

In 1981, Black lesbian poet, warrior, and mother Audre Lorde delivered the keynote speech “The Uses of Anger” at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference held at UConn. Lorde’s speech serves as the inspiration for this exhibition and the celebration of UConn’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program’s 50th anniversary. This selection weaves together ideas from both “The Uses of Anger” and “Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger,” an essay that Lorde composed two years later.

Drawn from The Benton’s collection of contemporary objects, the works in this exhibition manifest the ways in which the strength of women is rooted in our differences, which enable forms of resistance and resilience that are creative and regenerative. These pieces foreground the daily struggles of people wrestling with imposed, highly gendered experiences. This exhibition also encourages discussion of the relationality and coalition-building among people from diverse backgrounds as they determine what to embrace and how. Lorde’s seminal essays urge us to view anger not as a destructive force, but as a catalyst that guides us toward intersectional feminism. By honoring the work of our feminist predecessors, how can we use anger in the face of exclusion, violence, and repression to (re)construct our realities, protect our sisters, and build resistance?

Curatorial Team:
Nikki Blumenfeld
Ruba Bouzan
Jane Gordon
Urvi Kaul
Anh Le
Alejandra Leos
Elva Orozco Mendoza
Georgia Poirot
Christina Young
Sherry Zane

SIONA BENJAMIN, Finding Home #64 “Hagar” (2003). Gouache and gold leaf on wood panel. Contemporary World Art Fund.