Along with the new paintings, I will make available posters and prints of the old paintings. Each piece will be accompnaied by the story fo the woman in it, making this event a history lesson as well as an art show. Opening night is October 7, 2017 and the paintings will be hanging up the entire months of October and November. So come to Cofffee at The Point from 6-10 pm. I look forward to seeing you there.
When I was in school, I did not do well in history class. I mean, I did well enough to pass, but I didn’t get why we needed the course. It was all names and dates of people and places that seemed to have no relevance to my life. Now that I’m older, I see that we do a disservice to students when we make history boring. The fact is, history is full of STORIES. Everybody loves stories. If that weren’t true, there is no way the movie, television and gaming industries would be as big as they are today.
In recent years, I have learned more history in story form. I started out with historical fiction, stories of fake people set in real places, times and events. Those led me to look for stories of real people in history. Not only have these stories been interesting in their own right, they have finally become relevant. Learning the history of Women’s Suffrage has helped me appreciate my right to vote and to participate in political discourse. Those women fought long and hard (over 100 years) to have their voices heard. I owe it to them to take part.
Learning the history of the Civil Rights Movement makes me appreciate the fact that I am a full citizen in this country and am mostly treated as such. I was born well after the era of fire hoses and lynchings. It also reminds me not to accept injustice when it is directed at me or at others. History has taught me the vital role allies play in righting wrongs and in moving us toward progress and equality. Those who have inherent power should use it to help level the playing field for others. Those of us seeking that equality should accept help when it’s offered. Progress does not happen only by the efforts of the few, but by the efforts of the many.
In my series, Women Behaving Badly, I seek to answer three questions about each woman I depict: Who is She? What did She do? Why does She matter? To me, that last question is the most important and is what was missing from my history lessons all those years ago. Why should I care? Because it is all connected. It’s the butterfly effect. Seemingly small events and decisions from the past reverberating throughout the present and the future. Answering that question over and over again has given me new insight into the world around me. It has also made me more curious than ever before.
I’ve been taking a break from blogging for a while. I am far more visual than I am wordy, so at times, I just focus on the images. There are some new ones I want to share with you, but first, I have something to tell you about. I recently applied for a small business grant.
FedEx is offering to award $25,000 to the small business with the most votes. With that kind of money, I could create some great new products for you guys. I have some ideas for my Women Behaving Badly series that would help women and girls everywhere learn more about their place in history. So many women have contributed to the building of this country and our way of life. We should know who they are.
To that end, I want to print posters, informative postcards, collectible card decks (like baseball cards with stats and all), basically beautiful educational tools. Ideally, some would be for sale while others will be distributed to school aged kids. I want to inspire our young people, especially our young girls to enter high power, high paying fields like STEM, politics, business… fields in which the feminine touch is in short supply.
I am asking for your help. Please vote for me so that I can make my plans a reality.
UPDATE: The ballots have been cast and unfortunately, I have not been chosen this time around. Thank you to everyone who took time to vote (and help me troubleshoot my buttons). I will let you all know about any future opportunities that arise.
I may have mentioned this before but I love listening to podcasts. My list seems to grow every month as more, interesting series come to my attention. I stared listening to Radio Lab a few years ago and it was like my gateway drug. Podcasts allow me to insert information into my brain while I am working and inspire me to apply new concepts to my art.
It was through podcasts that I learned of some of the women I painted or my Women Behaving Badly series. I heard their stories, learned of their deeds and asked myself, why have I never heard of these women before? So, I set myself to the task of using my art to teach others. I felt as though I had finally found my purpose.
Listening to Hidden Brian today, I heard an episode which added to my motivation. The topic of the episode was unconscious bias as it relates to women, particularly women in leadership roles. Women who have the “masculine” traits necessary to be seen as good leaders are often considered overbearing and unlikable. When women display the expected “feminine” traits of being caring and compassionate, they are assumed to be weak and incompetent. The podcast calls this the “double bind”. It is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.
The end of the podcast suggests that if we are to get women out of this double bind situation, we need to change society’s perception of women. I have chosen to showcase women in history as my way of changing that perception. I highlight women leaders, inventors and healers of nations. Not only do they inspire me, our society needs to see them as contributors to who we are. We need to let go of our unconscious biases and see value in the feminine.
Check out this episode of Hidden Brain to learn more. And go to my Women Behaving Badly blog to learn more about the series.
Happy new year everybody! I know, it’s already been a month since the year started. I just been so busy working on projects, I’m only now finding time to gather my thoughts. I would love to show you what I’ve been working on but I want to make sure I respect the privacy of my clients.
Teaching at Girls Inc.
What I can share with you is something I’ve been waiting months to do. I have moved my Women Behaving Badly paintings to Girls Inc. of Denver, where they will hang until March 3rd. When I started this series I wanted to inspire young girls with the deeds of the women who have helped to shape our society. I wish I’d had these women as role models when I was young. Now the students of Girls Inc. can see these paintings every day and read about the lives of these amazing women.
In addition to showing my work in their halls, I’m also teaching three classes a week at Girls Inc. These classes are combination of history lesson and art lesson. I begin by walking through the halls with the girls, looking at the paintings and telling each woman story as I know it. Then we had back to the classroom to review and I find out which woman inspires each girl and why. I ask if there’s anyone else they find inspirational and take note of their responses.
The younger girls are given handouts of women they can research for their own paintings. The older girls get to do independent study of woman of their choosing . I asked him to tell me a story. By day 3, we take a break from academics to do art class. The first day is all about collage where I teach about technique as well as ways to think about color, shape and subject matter. The next day we do some acrylic painting with the same ideas in mind. These will be the key elements of their final project.
The last two classes are where we put it all together. Each girl is given an 18″ x 24″ wooden board to work on and is given the task of telling the story of the woman she is selected through image, word and color. I want them to work on wood so that they see it as a final piece, not just another throwaway school project. I wanted to feel special.
The Final Product
Over the course of eight weeks, I will have worked with second grade through fifth grade. The third-grade class is already finished and the fifth-graders are halfway through. At the end, we will hold an exhibition showing off the girls work to family and friends.
I am loving this opportunity to work with young girls and to hear from them what traits they admire most in the women they’re learning about. I love their openness, their enthusiasm and their spirit of exploration. I can’t wait to see what the next five weeks will bring.
Good morning Afro Triangle Friends. This weekend I have been binge-watching Tac au Tac, a French TV show from the 70s. Famous cartoonists of the time get together to play all kinds of fun drawing games. There are no prizes, just the final picture.
I have watched the following video over a dozen times. I appreciate the way these guys ran with a single concept and expanded upon it. Jean Giraud begins with a box, then each man follows instructions to create elements of the past, present and future. What I hadn’t done before was think about what was happening at the time they were creating this image. You see, this episode was filmed in 1972, while the Vietnam war was still raging. Two of the artists, Neal Adams and Joe Kubert, are American.
People had been protesting the war for almost a decade in the States, and both artists would have already formed their opinions about it. Adams was staunchly against the war while Kubert was known for drawing war comics. I thought it was interesting that once the drawing was on the war path, to hear what Adams was saying to Giraud. He said that no matter what you write on that box, violence could be what comes out. You could put love, you could put religion, and still people would find a reason to fight.
I’m still mulling over what I think about that. Another observation… Giraud drew a guy who looks very much like a German soldier. He would have been 2 years old when the Germans invaded Paris in 1940. I couldn’t tell you how much he remembered of those four years, but it must have been embedded in his psyche somewhere.
My work on Women Behaving Badly has made me think differently about older footage now. Thinking about the context in which things are happening has given me a richer experience of these older films than I could have imagined. I finally understand history!
Good morning Afro Triangle Friends. I’m getting a bit of a late start, but it’s the weekend, so I’m allowed. The opening for the Feminine Energy Art Exhibition went well last night. Not too many people came, but what we lacked in quantity, we made up for in quality. I had some great conversations with my fellow artists, our hosts and our guests. Even sold one of each of my Women Behaving Badly posters.
I was talking to this gentleman about my work and started explaining the posters to him. He got so excited about the different women’s stories, he called his wife over. She bought them all right there on the spot. Because she works with a lot of men, she is going to plaster her walls with the posters to show them how awesome women are.
Enough business talk!
I want to tell you guys about the podcasts I listen to. I know, it’s super nerdy, but this is where I have drawn inspiration for my latest works. It began with Radiolab. In this podcast, our hosts Jad and Ryan explore all kinds of stories, from science and sociology. They use some amazing sound engineering to punctuate the most interesting points. My favorite was when they were talking about the colors different animals can see. They overlaid the voices of a choir to represent each color range. Dogs had only about four voices, while the Mantis Shrimp had a full chorus.
Then I heard Invisibilia. This one is about two women who explore the invisible things that rule all our lives: our thoughts and emotions. They touch on fear, gender, consciousness, and turn each of these on its end. There is an interview with a blind man who is able to get around by using echolocation. They talk to a person whose gender is so fluid, within seconds, they can switch from male to female. You have to hear that one for yourself to even to begin to understand it.
Lately, because of Women Behaving Badly, I’ve been focusing on Stuff You Missed in History Class and History Chicks. What they lack in the production values of the other two podcasts, they more than make up for in information. I have learned about Harriet Tubman and the badass that she was, Josephine Baker, Marie Curie and many more. Stuff You Missed… covers all of history, but History Chicks is only about the women.
If you are a big nerd like I am, I’m sure you have many more podcasts that you can recommend. I’m only naming four here, because this post is getting long, but I will come back with more. I hope you guys have a great day!
I mentioned earlier this morning that I had a meeting that I didn’t want to jinx. Well, now I can tell you about it! I met with a gentleman named Jason Janz who works with an organization called Upstream Impact. This organization helps impoverished people and ex-cons turn their lives around. Jason saw my Women Behaving Badly paintings the day after I hung them and called me up.
What he wants to do is commission a series of paintings on both national and local leaders with the intention of inspiring the people in the program. This year, 100 men and women will be coming through their doors. Because many of these people are of the Black and Latino communities, Jason wants to show leaders who represent them. He wants these folks to see themselves in the great men and women portrayed in the paintings.
How You Can Help
We are now in the research phase. If you are a local Denverite, and know something of this city’s history, I would love it if you could help me out. Shoot me the names of some Black, Latino and Native American leaders who have impacted this community and I will research and submit them for consideration. We are doing 10 paintings in all, five local leaders and five national leaders.
Once we are past the research phase, there will be a fundraiser in which I will include posters of my current series as well as our final choices as perks. These look great on bedroom walls and classroom walls.
I may or may not be done with this painting, but I’ve been sitting on it for two weeks now, so I’m showing it to you. If you have any suggestions for how I could make it better, I’m all ears.
Who was she?
Shirley Chisholm was an American politician, educator and author who became the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress.
What did she do?
The child of Caribbean immigrants, Chisholm was an educator in early life, working as the director at daycare centers in Brooklyn and Manhattan. She was known as the authority on issues involving early education and child welfare. Running these centers got her interested in politics. She became a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly where she helped to pass legislature that granted unemployment benefits to domestic workers and introduced the SEEK Program (Search for Education, Evaluation and Knowledge) which provided disadvantaged students a remedial education and the opportunity to enter college. In 1968, she was elected to the House of Representatives, becoming the first Black woman to do so. While in office, she worked to expand the food stamps program and was integral in the formation of WIC, which provides food and milk for poor mothers. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm ran for president.
Why does that matter?
The programs that Shirley Chisholm promoted and founded are still integral in helping poor people today. Although she didn’t win her bid for the presidency, the mere fact that she ran as a woman and an African American paved the way for the diversity in the field today and the fact that we now have a Black president.