The latest edition of Houston History Magazine features an article penned by our own Vince Lee, Archivist for the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection. In his latest piece, Vince takes a look at the much ballyhooed Houston Gorilla Girls and highlights the Houston Gorilla Girls Collection, available for study here at the University of Houston Special Collections. I spoke with Vince recently regarding the work behind the scenes that went into the article. His thoughts on the piece, and the Gorilla Girls as a whole, follow:
My impetus for writing the article, first and foremost, was to shed light on what I thought was an important and visually appealing collection. My hope in writing the article “From the Archives” on the Houston Gorilla Girls is to use the platform to talk more in depth about and provide increased awareness of the work that the Houston Gorilla Girls did in leveling the playing field for women artists in the Houston area.
I knew from the outset that the collection would provide many visual examples that would draw interest from potential researchers on what was contained-from masks and stuffed gorillas, to ephemera and photos from their demonstrations at local area art venues in which women were underrepresented as artists. If as a result of this, the article generates interest among researchers and students of art, women’ studies, and other interdisciplinary fields for further scholarly research and publication, then as an archivist I feel as if I have done my job.
The article itself wasn’t hard to write. All the ingredients were there from their records, photos, and ephemera. The Houston Gorilla Girls were very diligent and systematic about their own record keeping. It was just assembling what they had into a narrative to share their story and history with the greater public. If I had to sum up the Houston Gorilla Girls, I would say that they were a group of women fighting the good fight in gender equality, who took their cause seriously, but not themselves, and knew how to have a great time in the process.
It would appear his work on the article was also a great time in the process. Digital subscribers can read the article on Houston History’s website. Access to all those gorilla-themed weapons of gender and artistic liberation? Free of charge, as always, here at Special Collections.