I will have all the perSISTERS and the Female Power Project scarves and shawls for sale at the Takoma Park Street Festival on October 1, 2017, 10:00am till 5:00pm. Come say hey! Event info: http://www.mainstreettakoma.org/featured-events/takoma-park-festival/
Fresh in the studio, 5 x 7 inch small prints of ten perSISTERS designs—you asked for them! Some are reworked designs and they are all slightly different because the ratio is different than the 8 x 10 base size I design them in. The “SPEAK” (honoring Elizabeth Warren) design is quite different, and also “use PRIVILEGE to sow JUSTICE” (honoring Eleanor Roosevelt alone here, without Edith Sampson). “SHOW UP” is “STAND UP” in this version. They are $4.00 for singles, $25.00 for a boxed set of all 10, $15.00 for one in a black or white wooden-ish frame. Contact me if you would like me to ship. Here they are.
This design was a personal commission for my daughter’s birthday. She had mentioned more than once that I might want to do a perSISTERS poster for Siouxsie Sioux. And then it was going to be her birthday and I thought I would do one especially for her. You might be able to tell that I have to devote some time to research for each perSISTER so that I can try to get to the essence of a woman’s power or gift. Well, I found out that Siouxsie Sioux really is amazing, and here is what I discovered:
“I do remember wanting to come across as all-powerful and I wanted to kind of make it painful for people.”
Siouxsie Sioux (Born Susan Janet Ballion on 27 May 1957), has been called “one of the most influential British singers of the rock era” because of her work with her revolutionary band, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Her musical genres are called “Post-punk, new wave, gothic rock, alternative rock, and exotica,” although in interviews she resists most labels. About her difficult youth she has said, “growing up in the suburbs you’re always very aware of being different. You want desperately to just not stick out. Thankfully as I grew older I kind of appreciated the difference and, I guess, accentuated it.”
This is adapted from Wikipedia (mostly) and several interviews available online:
At 17, she left school. It was during this period that she began frequenting the local gay discos where most of her sister’s friends used to go. She introduced her own friends to that scene. In November 1975, a new young group called Sex Pistols performed at the local art college in Chislehurst. Siouxsie did not attend, but one of her friends told her how their singer threatened the string of students present at that gig. In February 1976, Siouxsie and her friend Steven Severin (then still called Steven Bailey) went to see Sex Pistols play in the capital. After chatting with members of the band, Siouxsie and Severin decided to follow them regularly. In the following months, journalist Caroline Coon coined the term “Bromley Contingent” to describe this group of eccentric teenagers devoted to the Sex Pistols.
Siouxsie became well known in the London club scene for her glam, fetish and bondage attire, which later became part of punk fashion. She would also later epitomise gothic style with her signature cat-eye makeup, deep red lipstick, spiky dyed-black hair and black clothing. One music critic has pointed out, “She was overtly sexual on a level, but not for anyone’s pleasure but her own.”
One of Siouxsie’s first public appearances was with the Sex Pistols on Bill Grundy’s television show, on Thames Television in December 1976. Standing next to the band, Siouxsie made fun of the presenter when he asked her how she was doing. She responded: “I’ve always wanted to meet you, Bill”. Grundy, who was drunk, suggested a meeting after the show. That directly provoked a reaction from guitarist Steve Jones, who responded with a series of expletives never heard before on early-evening television. This episode created a media furore on the front covers of several tabloids, including the Daily Mirror, which published the headline “Siouxsie’s a Punk Shocker”. This event had a major impact on Sex Pistols’ subsequent career, and overnight, they became a household name.
Not liking the cliches put forward by the press, Siouxsie distanced herself from that scene and stopped seeing Sex Pistols. She decided to focus all her energy on her own band, Siouxsie and the Banshees…
Following the adage of DIY and the idea that the people in the audience could be the people on stage, Siouxsie and Severin decided to form a band. When a support slot at the 100 Club Punk Festival (organised by Malcolm McLaren) opened up, they decided to make an attempt at performing, although at that time they did not know how to play any songs. On 20 September 1976, the band improvised music as Siouxsie sang the “Lord’s Prayer”. The performance lasted 20 minutes.
For critic Jon Savage, Siouxsie was “unlike any female singer before or since, commanding yet aloof, entirely modern.” She opened a new era for women in music as Viv Albertine from the Slits would later comment:
“Siouxsie just appeared fully made, fully in control, utterly confident. It totally blew me away. There she was doing something that I dared to dream but she took it and did it and it wiped the rest of the festival for me, that was it. I can’t even remember everything else about it except that one performance”.
The singer from Radiohead, Thom Yorke, said: “The band that really changed my life was R.E.M. and Siouxsie and the Banshees …”. “My favourite show I ever saw then was Siouxsie and she was absolutely amazing. … She’s totally in command of the whole audience”. Yorke added that she “made an especially big impression in concert, she was really sexy but absolutely terrifying.”
Siouxsie Sioux is still making music, evading categories, and taking command. “I was doing what I wanted to do.”
Here are two new poster designs in the #FemalePowerProject Positive Protest Principles Posters series, also called the perSISTERS. Now I will tell you about them.
TELL your story
It is partly through telling our stories—claiming the language for our experience—that we find female power. The more we speak and read, the more it is possible to express, and the more individual, “particularized,” experience becomes the rich shared experience of all humans.
In case you’re wondering about the wiggly-flower thing in the upper right, I was inspired by the striking flower pin Toni Morrison is wearing in the photo of her receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2012. Looking through my type ornaments, this one caught my eye. (It is part of the Poetica Typeface.) I think of it as an animated version of the flower pin Morrison is wearing. I placed it in the design over her open hand as if she is juggling a living story, throwing it into the air and into the world where it becomes an independent organism, providing a “context for our lives.”
Toni Morrison (born February 18, 1931) is an American novelist, editor, teacher, and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for Beloved. Inspired by the true story of an enslaved African American woman, Margaret Garner, who had escaped slavery but was pursued by slave hunters. Facing a return to slavery, Garner killed her two-year-old daughter but was captured before she could kill herself. Morrison’s novel imagines the dead baby returning as a ghost, Beloved, to haunt her mother and family. It would be hard to overestimate the influence of this novel on literature and American cultural understanding. Beloved is the first of three novels about love and African American history, sometimes called the Beloved Trilogy. Morrison has said they are intended to be read together, explaining, “The conceptual connection is the search for the beloved – the part of the self that is you, and loves you, and is always there for you.” In 1993 Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her citation reads: Toni Morrison, “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” She was the first black woman of any nationality to win the prize. In her Nobel acceptance speech, Morrison talked about the power of storytelling. To make her point, she told a story. She spoke about a blind, old, black woman who is approached by a group of young people. They demand of her, “Is there no context for our lives? No song, no literature, no poem full of vitamins, no history connected to experience that you can pass along to help us start strong? … Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world. Make up a story.”
When doing research on Eleanor Roosevelt I found this photo of her that includes Edith Sampson. They worked together on the U.S. delegation to the United Nations when the organization was crafting the remarkable Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Everyone should read this document which has been translated into over 500 languages. Who is Edith Sampson? She was a complicated woman at a complicated time, and this is what I found out about Eleanor and Edith.
Blue was Roosevelt’s favorite color. The orchid icon (background design) was made by freepik.com from www.flaticon.com
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) was an American politician, diplomat, and activist. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, having held the post from March 1933 to April 1945 during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office, and served as United States Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 to 1952. President Harry S. Truman later called her the “First Lady of the World” in tribute to her human rights achievements.
Roosevelt was a member of the prominent American Roosevelt and Livingston families and a niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. She married her fifth cousin once removed, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1905.
Eleanor and Franklin’s marriage was always complicated, and she resolved to seek fulfillment in a public life of her own. She persuaded Franklin to stay in politics after he was stricken with debilitating polio in 1921, which cost him the normal use of his legs, and Roosevelt began giving speeches and appearing at campaign events in his place. Following Franklin’s election as Governor of New York in 1928, and throughout the remainder of Franklin’s public career in government, Roosevelt regularly made public appearances on his behalf, and as First Lady while her husband served as President, she significantly reshaped and redefined the role of that office during her own tenure and beyond, for future First Ladies.
Though widely respected in her later years, Roosevelt was a controversial First Lady at the time for her outspokenness, particularly her stance on racial issues. She was the first presidential spouse to hold regular press conferences, write a daily newspaper column, write a monthly magazine column, host a weekly radio show, and speak at a national party convention. On a few occasions, she publicly disagreed with her husband’s policies. She launched an experimental community at Arthurdale, West Virginia, for the families of unemployed miners, later widely regarded as a failure. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees.
Following her husband’s death in 1945, Roosevelt remained active in politics for the remaining 17 years of her life. She pressed the United States to join and support the United Nations and became its first delegate. She served as the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Later she chaired the John F. Kennedy administration’s Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. By the time of her death, Roosevelt was regarded as “one of the most esteemed women in the world”; she was called “the object of almost universal respect” in her New York Times obituary.
Edith Spurlock Sampson (October 13, 1898 – October 8, 1979) was an American lawyer and judge, and the first Black U.S. delegate appointed to the United Nations.
Sampson came from a struggling family and left school at 14 to work. She eventually did finish high school and while she worked she studied at the New York School of Social Work. One of her instructors encouraged her to become an attorney. She worked as a social worker in the day and studied law at night. Sampson graduated from John Marshall Law School. In 1924 Sampson opened a law office on the South Side of Chicago, serving the local black community. From 1925 through 1942, she was associated with the Juvenile Court of Cook County and served as a probation officer. In 1927 Sampson became the first woman to earn a Master of Laws from Loyola University’s Graduate Law School. She also passed the Illinois State Bar exam that year. In 1934 Sampson became one of the first women to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1943, she became one of the first black members of the National Association of Women Lawyers. In 1947 she was appointed an Assistant State’s Attorney in Cook County. President Truman appointed Sampson as an alternate U.S. delegate to the United Nations in August 1950, making her the first African-American to officially represent the United States at the UN. She was reappointed to the UN in 1952, and served until 1953. During the Eisenhower Administration, she was a member of the U.S. Commission for UNESCO. In 1961 and 1962, she became the first black U.S. representative to NATO.
In 1949, Sampson was part of a non-government program that sent twenty-six prominent Americans on a world tour meeting leaders and citizens of foreign countries and participating in public political debates and radio broadcasts. Part of the reason she was able to participate is that, being a successful lawyer, she had the money to pay her own way. Sampson sought to counter the propaganda in the Soviet Union during the Cold War regarding the treatment of African Americans in the United States. This was controversial within the African American community and she was sometimes called an apologist for America’s injustices. Federal support for civil rights had to be a factor in a foreign policy that saw the cold war, at the time, as a war of ideas, and Edith Sampson was in the middle of this. It has been suggested that because she did not live in the American South and did not have connections there, she was not as aware of conditions there. She was a respected person at home and abroad and pressed for justice in the U.S.. She told an audience in Des Moines in 1950: “You have got to open these closed doors and end segregation if you are going to save yourselves. Communist agents have used the story of segregation as a propaganda weapon….It is bad enough, but the story they get abroad is worse than is actually true. If we had a real Fair Employment Practices Commission, it would mean more than having millions of dollars spent through the Marshall Plan. The people of the eastern and backward countries do not want gratuities; they want to be able to believe in you.” This was before the nonviolent protests spearheaded by Dr. King (with the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955) which pivoted the thinking of how to work for civil rights with the U.S. as a major character on the world stage.
Non-violent civil disobedience changed everything. “As a young preacher named Martin Luther King asserted amid the excitement of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, ‘If we were incarcerated behind the iron curtains of a communistic nation—we couldn’t do this. If we were trapped in the dungeon of a totalitarian regime—we couldn’t do this. But the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right….We are here because of our love for democracy, because of our deep-seated belief that democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action is the greatest form of government on earth.’”* Thus the protests were framed as an example of a vibrant American democracy, not as a symptom of its failure. Over time Sampson did become impatient with the slow pace of civil rights progress in the U.S.. In a speech to African American high school graduates in 1960, she said “We have convinced ourselves, because it seemed so necessary, that the battle against injustice could be won piece by piece through changes in law, through court appeals, through persistent but cautious pressures. We were mistaken. No—we were wrong. Ours was not the only way. It was not even the best way.” She stood “in admiration of those who…effectively used the new device of non-violence borrowed from Christ and Gandhi and brought to sharpened potency …by Martin Luther King.”* She concluded that, if it were possible for her to start over again, perhaps she would not make as many mistakes or miss as many opportunities, and that she may have had more courage to do things better. She still maintained that communicating person-to-person about American ideals and the lives of African Americans was better than any published propaganda.
In 1962 Sampson became the first black woman to be elected as a judge in the state of Illinois. By 1969 she had apparently regained her faith in working within the system, saying in a speech: “We learned that we could work within the establishment, the system, without necessarily knuckling under to it.”
She was a privileged woman and she worked for justice at a time, like now, when great inhuman forces seemed to be at work, and it was not entirely clear how to proceed.
From Wikipedia and *“The American Way: Edith Sampson, the NAACP, and African American Identity in the Cold War” by Helen Laville and Scott Lucas, published in Diplomatic History (1996) 20 (4): 565-590
Here is the most recent addition to the #FemalePowerProject, a multi-media triptych called PRESENCE: Honoring Ieshia Evans. This is one of two pieces with “PRESENCE” in its title. I will post about the other soon.
Now showing in the studio windows at Black Lab, you can view these works any time of the day or night (until I decide to take them down or show them somewhere else) at 716 Monroe Street NE, Studio 16, Washington, DC.
The three panels, based on a striking photograph by Jonathan Bachman, honor Ieshia Evans who was arrested in Baton Rouge on 7/10/16 protesting the murder of Alton Sterling. The writing on the pieces quotes parts of an interview with Ieshia Evans in which she describes her thoughts and feelings surrounding the event captured in the photograph. Her physical presence in the image holds immense power. I felt that this event and this person should be memorialized in some way since “viral” images have a tendency to be forgotten, their memory eroded by time and replaced by new viral images.
Multi-media assemblage and collage, triptych. The three images (below) show the left, middle, and right panels of the triptych. All pieces are collage, spray paint, painting, and drawing on museum board nailed to painted plywood with plaster decorative molding and writing in silver ink.
Left 18” x 24” x 2.5”
Text says: I’m a woman. I’m Here. I love my people.
Middle 18” x 24” x 1.5”
Text says: Ieshia Evans was arrested in Baton Rouge protesting the murder of Alton Sterling by police. “I’m human. I’m a woman. I’m a mom. I’m a nurse. I could be your nurse. I could be taking care of you. You know? I’m here. We all matter. We don’t have to beg to matter. We do matter … I never really considered myself to be in the definition of brave. But sometimes, jobs are given to you that you’re not really—you didn’t apply for. You know?” (Based on a photo by Jonathan Bachman)
Right 18” x 25.5” x 1.5”
Text says: 7/10/2016 – It is more than me, it is more than myself. So here I am, I have a responsibility to do something.
$750 each panel
Here they are in a gallery. Click to see a larger picture of each panel.
About the Female Power Project
The Female Power Project is a multi-media performance and series of physical expressions (shawls, scarves, pins, prints, multi-media wall pieces, assemblage sculpture, photographs, and—coming soon—assemblage boxes, a print publication, video…) I’ve created these objects and designs inspired by the power of women, both human and mythological. I’ve asked friends and strangers about their female heroes and deities. I’ve researched these females and tried to find the center point of their power or gift. I document this process here on this blog. In each piece I have tried not only to represent the person, but to represent the attributes and message—the power—of the person (or spirit) in words and/or in images. The females represented so far: The Virgin of Guadalupe; Malala Yousafzai; Harriet Tubman; Maya Angelou; Erzulie (the Haitian spirit of love); and Marie Curie. Coming up next: Frida Kahlo; Virginia Woolf; Aun Sang Suu Kyi; Rachel Carson; Nellie Bly; Simone DeBeauvoir; Rosie the Riveter; Ruth Bader Ginsburg…
Information on how to order pieces in the Female Power Project
You can order them directly from me! Just send me a message here to discuss your request (include your name, email, and the address you want me to ship to, as well as which pieces you would like to buy) and I will send you information and/or a Paypal invoice which will include the shipping cost (likely to be $5.00 for scarves and shawls and pins for U.S. destinations). I will ship when your payment goes through. If you are interested in purchasing a Female Power Pin ($48, some are $38) let me know and I will email you a picture of the ones I have in the studio right now. These are one-of-a-kind, so there’s no other way of telling what designs I will have when you want to get one.
Until they are all sold, 20% of the profits from the sale of my new “Peace Dove” shawl will be donated to the International Rescue Committee.
The peace shawl dove image is a digital collage from Asian handmade papers. It is digitally printed on fabric in North Carolina in a fiber reactive process. The fabric is a lightweight sheer 70% cotton/30% silk voile. The edges are finished in a rolled serger hem. It is about 36in x 90in. You can wear it as a shawl or as a scarf because the fabric is thin enough to bunch up into a fluffy scarf. It costs $145 plus shipping charges. Payment: you can come to Black Lab and pay me, or I can send you a Paypal invoice so you can purchase online.
(The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. At work in over 40 countries and 25 U.S. cities to restore safety, dignity and hope, the IRC leads the way from harm to home. www.rescue.org)
Now that “Jewels: Blue-Green Girl, Boat” is finished, Jewels is complete. There are twelve diptychs in this collection, one for each major stop on the color wheel. As a visitor to the studio said, “It’s rainbow!” Each panel in a two-panel set has a small and concentrated instance of the subject color, and for a final touch I hand paint gloss medium on this color to add punch. These are wee pieces, each panel is 4 inches square and about 1.5 inches deep, with the sides painted in a shade of the featured hue. Each image rhymes with its partner, and not just because of the color. I like to play with categories here, as elsewhere, especially “natural” and “human-made.” In “Blue-Green,” “Girl” is sitting in a tree, and “Boat” is on water; which is more natural? I am also thinking about places: “Girl” is in Baltimore and “Boat” is in Venice, both places in various kinds of crisis. As another visitor said the other day, “Interesting. You look at them and they’re completely different, but they’re not!”
I have my Mimesis book and a couple large prints from it showing now in the PHOTOBOOK exhibition at Vivid Solutions Gallery. This show is up until December 19, 2014. Also, for only two days, I will be showing some new work and some classics at FotoBazaar as part of FotoWeekDC. On November 15 and 16 from 10:00am–6:00pm my work (and many others’ work!) will be showing in 51 N Street NE, WDC: it’s free! There is also an opening party on Friday, November 14 from 6:30–10:00pm. This costs $15 in advance.
Mimesis comes out of a train of thought I have been riding for the past few years. I have been playing with the interface between three categories of objects: plant; animal; and human-made. My goal is to call attention to the categories we use to divide up the world, in an attempt to free ourselves to see things as unhooked from our expectations. In these works I have been combining (layering, morphing, aligning using Photoshop) different objects that share visual characteristics. (See these series: Pseudomorphs; Celestial Bodies; Correspondences.)
In the Mimesis images I started with the physical objects themselves. I chose pairs of things (one natural, one human-made) that have similar shapes and then physically manipulated one of the pair to more resemble the other. I started with the metal keyhole plate, which had a leaf shape, and then cut the hole out of a real leaf.
“Mimesis” means imitation and, by extension, representation. In what sense can we say the leaf represents the keyhole?
When I saw first two images together I knew the book form would be perfect for this series, each pair could occupy a spread. And so I’ve made a book from these images, called… mimesis. The book incorporates one continuous eight foot long piece of inkjet printed canvas that folds into an accordion structure. I will produce this book in a very small edition (six, I think) and the price will be $500. I will edition individual prints (each pair makes one print) in 11″ x 14″ and sell these for $150. Contact me if you would like to order directly from the artist.
This work will be featured in a group show called PHOTOBOOK at Vivid Solutions Gallery, November 7 – December 19 with an Opening Reception on Friday, November 7 from 6–8 pm.
You can also see a mimesis prototype and some mounted prints in my studio, Black Lab. A good time to come is this Thursday, October 16, 6:00–8:00pm during the Third Thursday open studios on the Arts Walk. Many studios will be open and some will be hosting special events. 716 Monroe Street NE, Studio #16, Washington, DC 20017. We are steps from the Brookland/CUA Metro Station, Red Line.