Meet the Lawyer Who Took the Notorious RBG from Meme to Museum Exhibit

Shana Knizhnik’s celebration of Ruth Bader Ginsburg blew up

Shana Knizhnik’s “Notorious RBG”—first a Tumblr, then a meme, then a book—is now an exhibit at the Skirball Center. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg opens October 19 and runs through March 10, 2019.

Born: Philadelphia

Home Base: New York City

The Birth of a Meme: In 2013 the Supreme Court made some landmark decisions that did not sit well with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Inspired by Ginsburg’s record number of oral dissents, Knizhnik started a Tumblr called Notorious R.B.G. Then the internet did what it does best: It exploded.

notorious rbg exhibit skirball center shana knizhnik
Shana Knizhnik

Alan Wathan

The Phenomenon: The meme inspired T-shirts, tattoos, toys, and more. In 2015 Knizhnik and journalist Irin Carmon spun it into a New York Times best-seller with an assist from RBG herself.

The Exhibition: The book lays the foundation for the Skirball show, but there are also archival documents and photos, clips from the 2018 documentary RBG, and a jabot, or collar, from Ginsburg’s wardrobe.

In Her Words: “I’m no longer surprised by how people respond to Justice Ginsburg’s life and story—even people who don’t necessarily agree with her.”

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