Strong Women Project

 

I started this series of paintings of strong women as a way to process and respond to our current political situation. It is astonishing to me that our country has not even passed the Equal Rights Amendment, and the more I talk about it, the more I find that most people don’t know that. I’m not sure kids and 20-somethings even know what the ERA is. In 2016, my step daughter and I, my sister and her daughter, and a handful of close women friends marched with thousands of others in the Women’s March on Washington, DC to protest the election of our misogynist president. It was extremely inspirational, and I wanted to do more, but I, like many others, let things slide, kept my head down and thought things couldn’t get worse or figuring that someone else would sort it out.. And yet it has gotten worse. The “Me Too Movement” of the past few years and most recently the bravery with which Dr. Christine Blazey Ford spoke about her experience with Brett Kavanaugh has also been really inspiring. And I thought, there must be enough outrage now that something will change, yet, our country put him on our highest court and set us up to have rights we have fought for taken away. That was my tipping point. I couldn’t just watch anymore. The patriarchal society just isn’t working for the majority of this country. We are being led and manipulated by a minority. It’s time for a change and I truly believe that it will be women who will make it. I don’t know exactly where the Strong Woman Project is going and right now its very much an act of self preservation, but I do believe that art can be a very strong form of protest and of inspiration. So, creating this work and honoring these strong women is not only helping me process my anger and frustration, but maybe it will inspire and motivate people to support each others’ strength and speak up for our rights.


 April | 48 x 36 inches | oil on canvas

April | 48 x 36 inches | oil on canvas

admire her because…

Like all the women I am painting, there are so many reasons that I admire her. The most recent and politically impactful is that while protesting the white nationalist, Nazi, descent upon our city of Charlottesville, VA, on August 12, 2017, she was almost run over when a man drove his car full-speed through a crowd of people killing, one and physically injuring over 20 to the point of needing medical care on site or transport to the hospital. My friend was lucky to not be physically hurt, but the emotional impact has been great and she has fought hard to regain her normal day-to-day. Her strength lead her down the path of self-care and seeking others who shared her experience. She continues to protest and fight for what she believes in. She walked hundreds of miles from Charlottesville to Washington, DC to protest white supremacy. She belongs to local organizations and regularly attends local political efforts to move our country forward, for example, to finally ratify the ERA. She volunteered for the Peace Corps and spend two years in Africa much later in life than most, learning not one but two languages to do so. She is a bee-keeper and believes in gardening and eating local food. And not least, when I moved to Charlottesville, knowing almost no one, she became my first friend and helped me find the calmer, more wholesome existence I was looking for after living in Washington, DC for 9 years.


 Tori | 72 x40 inches | oil on canvas

Tori | 72 x40 inches | oil on canvas

I admire her because…

She’s smart as a whip and though she is endearingly, outwardly untidy, her ability to organize her thoughts, speak dynamically in front of a room of people, and remember facts and decisions is spot on. She is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, a leader and teacher at the Academy, and she organizes and teaches self defense workshops to women in the community. Almost her entire backyard is a vegetable garden mostly started from seed, and she fully embraces the community of animals that have come to call her yard home and feed off her garden. She shops at the local farmers market, and does everything in her power to keep her carbon footprint small from the solar panels on her roof and biking to work to carrying her own containers and silverware so she doesn’t use plastic. None of this is even her job where she leads a large team of people who facilitate the communication of cutting-edge scientific research that helps save lives around the world. And finally, I admire my good friend whose fashion sense usually ranges from a fleece, jeans, and sneakers to her gi, because she wears her nails painted bright, candy-apple red!


 Hope | 72 x 48 inches | oil on canvas

Hope | 72 x 48 inches | oil on canvas

I admire her because…

She has worked in the education field for 18 years, and though teaching children is by nature hard work, she always chooses the hardest of the teaching jobs. She taught in the inner city school system in Cleveland and Washington, DC. She was Principal of a small school offering children who did not fit into the traditional school system a place to learn and thrive. And now she teaches children with autism and their families how to lead full lives . She is passionate about teaching the next generation and bettering the world for it. She is also an amazing friend and caretaker of her family and mine. She helps me take care of my aging parents who both suffer from mental challenges as though they were her own parents. As anyone who has aging parents knows, it is often a major strain, but she loves them and helps me just by being there for us all. Obviously, I also admire her because she has such an awesome dog who adores her. Dogs are great judges of character but it works the other way too. When a dog has a good demeanor, it is very much a reflection of who raised him. And finally, I admire her because she looks stunning in a formal gown and is not shy to show it!