2015 marks the ten-year anniversary of B-Girl Be, a series of events intended to highlight female contributions to hip-hop. The anniversary will be celebrated with an exhibit at Intermedia Arts, opening today and being celebrated with an overnight opening reception on Saturday night.
B-Girl Be was founded in 2005 under the auspices of Intermedia Arts, a Minnesota organization dedicated to promoting social change through the arts. The founding members of B-Girl Be sought to celebrate the talents and contributions of women to hip-hop culture, a need that they identified in light of the industry’s tendency to focus solely on the appearance of female performers.
The movement acts as a community and base of support for women in the founding four elements of hip-hop: oral (MCing), aural (DJing), physical (breakdancing), and visual (graffiti art). It seeks to challenge the perception of women in the hip-hop world, as well as celebrate and encourage women seeking to begin or bolster their own careers as artists. It achieves this by creating a community in which female artists can meet, view and critique each other’s’ work, and follow each other’s careers.
B-Girl Be began with a summit in 2005. Over the years, it grew to encompass a series of festivals, parties, camps, workshops, concerts, and art shows—always focused on women in hip-hop, and always about connection and empowerment. Intermedia Arts has always been B-Girl Be’s home base, making it apt that the Lyn-Lake space is hosting this anniversary exhibit and party.
Katrina Knutson, a Minneapolis artist and educator who’s a co-curator of the exhibit, describes how B-Girl Be served as a foundation for her career. “When I started I was just a graffiti writer…I don’t think I’d ever even been in an art show before,” she says. “[B-Girl Be] was this really great way for me to get into the art world, and now I’m a working artist — that’s my job.”
Over the last decade B-Girl Be has helped to increase the involvement of women in the Twin Cities’ hip-hop scene. Several prominent Twin Cities artists have either begun or been involved with B-Girl Be, like founding member Desdamona, a spoken word poet who has performed on some of hip-hop’s most prestigious stages. B-Girl Be has also been the catalyst for the foundation of several art collectives worldwide, such as the international group Tantrum and New York’s Younity.
B-Girl Be’s growth and success over the past ten years will be celebrated with a visual art exhibit, Space & Time, that will be on display from today through August 22. There will be a Dusk ‘til Dawn opening reception for the exhibit on June 13, coinciding with (though not officially associated with) Minneapolis’ overnight Northern Spark festival.
The event will feature visual art, live painting, dancing, and performances from both seasoned artists, such as Desdamona and Maria Isa, as well as younger artists brand new to the hip-hop scene. Festivities begin at 7:00 p.m. Saturday and last until 7:00 a.m. Sunday, with a $5 cover.
Raisa Elhadi is a student at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.