Art meets activism in ‘Art for Access,’ a fundraiser for the Iowa Abortion Access Fund

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Art for Access

Raygun, Iowa City — Friday, April 5 at 5 p.m.

Posters in the 2019 Art for Access show. — image courtesy of Iowa Abortion Access Fund

“Art for Access” returns to Iowa City for its fifth year on Friday. The annual poster show is a fundraiser for the Iowa Abortion Access Fund (IAAF), a Cedar Rapids-based nonprofit that assists women in affording abortion-related medical services.

Even though the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed the state constitution strongly protects women’s rights in “the profoundly personal realms of family and reproductive autonomy” in its January decision striking down the so-called “fetal heartbeat bill,” those rights become meaningless if barriers prevent women from accessing medical services, IAAF board member Jessica Smith said.

Founded in 1978, IAAF makes payments directly to clinics to partially cover costs incurred by women who would otherwise be unable to afford, or have great difficulty affording, abortion-related services.

The annual poster show, which offers copies of 10 posters by local artists for sale, has become a signature event for IAAF.

“It’s easy and affordable to get involved and support important work,” Smith said. “And to support local artists.”

Prints of the posters in the show, and a pack of postcards featuring the images from all 10, are available for $10, with all proceeds from the sales being evenly divided between IAAF and the artists. Raygun is also making a $5 donation to IAAF for each sale, so the nonprofit will get a full $10 for every poster or pack of postcards.

Smith is one of this year’s featured artists. Her poster of a hanging plant has a caption reading, “Hang in there.” The phrase has a special resonance for Smith, who served as IAAF’s client liaison for five years.

“In that role, I took calls from clients who could not afford clinic costs for appointments they had scheduled,” she explained. “I would coordinate transferring funds between IAAF and the clinics where they had an appointment scheduled. In the five years that I had this job there were thousands of people who had an appointment scheduled they couldn’t afford, and I ended every call with ‘hang in there.’”

“I chose those words because nothing else seemed to really fit.”

Smith realized the people she was speaking to had just made a deeply personal and emotional decision, and were still facing serious challenges.

“’Hang in there’ was just an appropriate way to end these conversations,” she said. “To give them a little bit of support and let them know I understood where they were and what they needed. So, those words are important to me, especially in my role at IAAF.”

“Hang in there,” a poster by Jessica Smith. — image courtesy of Iowa Abortion Access Fund

The two-hour show at Raygun in downtown Iowa City starts at 5 p.m. The posters and postcards are also available through Raygun’s site. Like the show itself, all proceeds from the sales go to IAAF and the artists, with Raygun still making matching donations for the 50 percent that goes to IAAF.

“These postcard packs are amazing,” Smith said. “They are the perfect thing to send to your bestie for her fridge, or to Mike Pence or Joni Ernst to ruin their day.”

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