Stern dropped out before graduating in the mid-2000s and moved in with artist Mike Taylor and friends in Providence. Here she found work programming AS220’s performance space from 2008 to ’11. She also drums in the punk feminist band Whore Paint.
Stern has made political prints since at least the 1990s, and was one of the founders of the Justseeds political artists’ cooperative (along with Erik Ruin, who has also landed here). These prints tend to be more blunt and didactic in both their statements and their craft. Her broadsides have addressed reproductive justice, accessible health-care, and how deportations affect families — sometimes working directly with activist organizations to develop, distribute, and use the prints.
Stern has exhibited her prints (particularly her activist work) all over North America, but her art has hovered at the fringes of Providence’s galleries and museums. In recent years, a primary place to catch what she was up to was on the walls of the Craftland shop in Providence, which has featured her prints of anthropomorphic cats and her activist broadsides, like a smiling cat saying, “ Give love! Buy nothing!”
Providence is great at fostering artists, but the limited number of exhibition spaces means much of it stays underground. Eight years ago with the show “Wunderground,” the RISD Museum surveyed part of this local scene. As Stern and other local peers from this milieu approach midlife, it’s time for institutions like the museum to circle back and give these artists solo mid-career retrospectives — to support them and art-making here, and to continue to demonstrate just how amazing this community is.
Follow Greg Cook on Twitter @Aestheticresear.