Nº. 1 of  65

Les Femmes Folles

Women in art Find your art on Redbubble

Julia Westerbeke, artist

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Proxy, 2014 (detail), Ink on paper, foam, wood shadow box, photo by J May Studio

Julia Westerbeke’s exhibit MORPHOLOGY closes September 28 at AIR Gallery in Brooklyn. She generously shares with LFF about growing up in a creative family, her inspirations from science to relationships, why she enjoys creating installations, feminist discussion and her work, advice for aspiring artists and more…

Where are you from? How did you get into art?

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment, since for me, growing up in a liberal Bay Area family, art wasn’t so much discovered as it was inherited. In my community, the creative act was kind of like routine exercise: intrinsically healthful, useful and developmentally important. My grandmother was involved in the Human Potential movement that began in the 1970s, and she championed the Waldorf education model of spectrum-based learning, which placed a high importance on pictorial and hands-on knowledge. Closer to home, my father is a musician and my mother is a fashion designer. Childhood memories of exploring towering archives of lace and playing on fabric knolls at my mother’s studio undoubtedly influenced the textural and patterned works I make today.

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Rind, 2014, Ink on acetate, white-wax glue, foam, wood, 20” x 12” x 3.5”, photo by J May Studio

Tell me about your inspirations, process.

Drawings are the fundamental building blocks of my practice. Often, I create templates of ink-on-paper and ink-on-vellum renderings, which I then hand-cut and collage into detailed reliefs, sculptures and installations. The imagery is largely biomorphic and semi-abstract, drawing inspiration from science fiction and biological illustrations to create works that entangle fantasy and fact. The outcome is organic, but also somewhat alien and other. Ultimately my goal is to create visceral works with a familiar-yet-foreign dynamic, which speaks to our complicated relationship with nature and the body. This relationship shifts, rather continually, between states of intimacy and alienation, closeness and otherness. Sometimes we are in our skin, and sometimes we are not. Sometimes we exist within an ecosystem; sometimes we separate as autonomous units. On a related note, I am interested in abstraction as a catalyst for the imagination. My hope is that these works serve as a prompt for the viewer, a discussion that he or she will take up and continue, either internally or externally.

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Installation shot (featuring Stem II and Seam), Morphology Exhibition at A.I.R. Gallery, photo by J May Studio

Tell me about your current/upcoming show and why it’s important to you

For the past few years, I have been primarily focused on installations, that is, building environments that exist in the viewer’s space. I was— and still am— drawn to the idea of removing barriers between the viewer and the work, and installations do that quite literally. Really, I think a lot of artists revel in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: the idea that the viewer affects what is being viewed. In installations, the viewer/participant is the final, physical component of the work. But in this new series, I wanted to see if I could move away from environments and even further towards microcosms. I created a series of shadow boxes and discrete artworks that served as terrariums for the organic imagery. Here, there is a sort of membrane between viewer and art, certainly permeable but still separate. It’s more of a mental exploration, less physically direct but still somatic, haptic, i.e. of the body. One vertical shadow box, Proxy, measures to my height and around the width of my shoulders. Another, related sculpture is the height of my husband. The dimensions of Core, a smaller cube-like shadow box, roughly correlate to the size of a human head. In all of these works, bodily proportions and organic imagery coalesce with visceral materials (drips of paint and lava-like spills of glue) to create a sort of corporeal entropy. Even though these works are more contained than my previous installations, there is still an unraveling at the edges, a proverbial thread for the viewer to pull. Tightly rendered and intricate drawings often spin off into looser or more hurried gestures of mark-making across the expanse of a composition. It’s all happening on a quiet and subtle level, at a minute scale.

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Stem II, 2014, Ink on paper, black-wax glue, wood molding, frame, 11” x 21” x 1”, photo by J May Studio

Do you think your city is a good place for women in art?

When I was eighteen, I moved to New York to attend Barnard, a women’s college that’s part of Columbia University. Barnard was such a game changer for me as an artist and thinker. What was before a creative habit became an intellectual commitment; art and ideas formed a symbiotic relationship and I was hooked.  So my experience in New York began within a community of strong, interesting and interested women. Years later, I taught at Barnard, and I have remained close with a supportive, collaborative (and I would go so far as to say crucial) network of alumnae, professors and former students who exhibit, curate, direct, teach and write. Now, as an A.I.R. Gallery artist, I get to work with generations of women, many of whom have built their practices for decades. So, as with anywhere, and perhaps especially within the spectrum of the New York art world, community is key.

On a larger scale, it’s difficult to make sweeping statements, but I’m particularly interested in the feminist discussions that are being furthered in the press right now. Jerry Saltz recently noted the dearth of solo exhibitions by women artists in the city. The Brooklyn Rail just came out with an issue devoted to gender equity in the art world, which features an essay by A.I.R. artist Susan Bee.

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Installation shot (featuring Hypnagogia II and Core), photo by J May Studio

Artist Wanda Ewing, who curated and titled the original LFF exhibit, said of her work “I’ve been making provocative art with a political edge in my midwestern hometown since 1999. And to do that, you have to be tenacious as hell.” Are you tenacious in your work or life? How so?

Anyone who continues to put him or herself out there through creative work is tenacious. It is an act that requires tenacity, a strong sense of self, and the ability to occasionally pick-up-and-dust-off that sense of self after, say, a toxic studio visit. 

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Hypnagogia II , 2014 (detail), Ink on paper, 58” x 43”, photo by J May Studio

Does feminism play a role in your work?

There is definitely a celebration of the feminine embedded into my artistic language, which is tied to my interest in pattern, ornamentation and organic forms. So I would say feminist by way of the feminine.

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Core, 2014, Ink on vellum, plastic, acrylic paint, wood shadow box, 10” x 10” x 4”, photo by J May Studio

Ewing’s advice to aspiring artists was “you’ve got to develop the skill of when to listen and when not to;” and “Leave. Gain perspective.” What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Form an intimate knowledge of your fundamental, baseline beliefs, interests and passions as an artist, then do your best to experiment and evolve ad infinitum.

 For more information on AIR Gallery visit airgallery.org.  http://airgallery.org/artists/julia-westerbeke/#0_1

http://www.juliawesterbeke.com/

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Les Femmes Folles is a completely volunteer run organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art with the online journal, anthologies, books, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012 and 2013, available on blurb.com, including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists. A portion of the proceeds from LFF books and products benefit the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Wanda Ewing Scholarship Fund.

Christine Stoddard, artist/editor/writer

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Quail Flight. Mixed media/found objects. 15”x20” Christine Stoddard

Christine Stoddard generously shares with LFF about her multi-creative talents, growing up in Arlington, VA; her interest in Scottish and Latin American Folklore; why DC is a great place for women in art and much more…

Where are you from? How did you get into art?

I was born and raised in Arlington, Virginia, the smallest county in America. That being said, it’s by no means small-minded. Arlington is one of the most educated counties in the United States, with one of the highest rates of PhDs per capita. It’s also the site of several landmarks and companies you might’ve thought were in Washington, D.C.—the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial, etc. What’s the reason for the confusion? Arlington is just across the river from D.C. Literally. You can cross any one of three bridges (Key, Memorial, Chain) to get from Arlington to D.C. Arlington also has a more dramatic skyline than D.C. Rosslyn has skyscrapers; Georgetown, which is directly across from that area of Arlington, has none. That’s because in D.C., no building is allowed to be taller than the U.S. Capitol. Over the years, I’ve witnessed countless tourists point at Rosslyn and call it D.C. Nope. It’s the Old Dominion, folks. 

Arlington is part of what the U.S. Census calls the Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria Metropolitan Statistical Area. Alexandria is a beautiful historic city in Virginia that borders Arlington. Arlington and Alexandria also belong to a region known as Northern Virginia. Northern Virginia refers to the part of Virginia that doesn’t feel Southern. As someone who’s also lived in Richmond, Virginia, this is both a good and a bad thing. Overall, I love the North and I love the South, but for different reasons; I’m grateful I live in a place where the two meet. NoVa, as locals call it, includes several other cities and counties, such as Falls Church where I live today. The Greater Washington, D.C. metro area, which includes NoVa and parts of Maryland through Baltimore, is known as DMV, for D.C., Maryland, Virginia. It’s a thriving place.

The reason I’m going on and on about where I’m from is because it’s a place the rest of the country often negatively perceives the area. They think that D.C. is nothing but a place for corrupt politicians. Sure, there are corrupt politicians. There are many other people, too. The Federal government isn’t our only industry. We have art. We have history. We have delicious food. Not everybody works for the Federal government and even those that do contribute to our regional culture in so many fascinating ways.

But enough about DMV. I got into writing and art quite simply because I have creative parents, am naturally introspective, and have thus far lived a life full of adventure. That formula tends to produce artists.

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from The Lonely Star Pony Finds Friends in Dreams. Digital photo series, Christine Stoddard

Tell me about your inspirations, process.

I am Scottish-Salvadorian-American woman and have lived in Virginia almost all my life. My identity alone is cause for introspection, research, and discovery. I’m very interested in Scottish and Latin American folklore, as well as the history and folklore of Virginia and Maryland. Race studies, immigrant and post-colonial literature, and feminism speak to who I am and what I want to create, too. More broadly, the art of storytelling intrigues me. I love exploring how stories are crafted across cultures and eras. Some conventions are universal; others are very specific to a time or place. One part of storytelling that particularly speaks to me is the merging of words and images. I elaborated upon this infatuation a bit for a post published on the WriterHouse blog. (WriterHouse is a magical community space in Charlottesville, Virginia.) My writing tends to be very visual and my visual work tends to be very writerly. Whether I’m penning an essay, making a short film, or putting together a collage, I often unite words and images. No matter what I’m making, I identify first as a writer, an author, a storyteller. That doesn’t mean I’m discounting images; I’m using them as another tool for telling stories.

Tell me about your current/upcoming show/exhibit/project and why its important to you.

I have several projects and shows coming up, but I’ll talk about two. First up is the next print issue of Quail Bell Magazine. It’s all about feminism and womanhood and it is glorious. I founded QuailBellMagazine.com while still in college and feel so privileged to work with awesome talents like art director Kristen Rebelo to bring the dream from pixels to paper. Quail Bell is a place for real and unreal stories from all over the world. Our format is highly visual and our content is literary, honest, and diverse. We update the website daily and publish the print ‘zine as a special perfect-bound, full-color project a couple times a year. So far Quail Bell has been featured or mentioned in Time Out New York, The Washington Post, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Ravishly.com, Flapperhouse, Brooklyn Community Access Channel, and elsewhere. We’ve also tabled everywhere from the New York City Poetry Festival to the Virginia Festival of the Book to the Philly Feminist Zine Fest. Issue 6 will be premiering at Crafty Bastards Arts & Crafts Fair in Washington, D.C. this September. Learn more about our print ‘zine here: http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/subscribe.html

I’m also excited about performing my poetry project, Ladies of Lore, at the Annapolis Fringe Festival this October. It’s the first Fringe Festival I will have ever done, so naturally I have butterflies. Though I’d taken a hiatus from performing, I’m looking forward to jumping back into it, this time focusing on performing only works that I’ve written. In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking about BUNKERproject’s Performance Arts Festival in Pittsburgh—I’ll be performing there tomorrow, Aug. 30th!

Do you think your city is a good place for women in art? Do you show your work elsewhere/is there a difference in how your work is received?

Speaking on behalf of both Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia, yes, these are great places for women in art. Because of VCUarts and VCU’s creative writing program, Richmond is rich in opportunities for emerging artists and writers. Even if you aren’t attached to the university in any way, there are plenty of nonprofits, galleries, theater companies, and informal groups that meet up to make art. I’m still active in Richmond’s art scene and hope that I always will be. D.C.’s game is bigger and more competitive. There are DIY, grassroots organizations (though that’s more of Baltimore’s thing), but, for the most part, this is the place where having experience helps. 

One of my first endeavors after college was translating stage plays for Teatro de la Luna, a bilingual theater company based in Washington, D.C. Their international Hispanic theater festival brings in critically-acclaimed theatre companies from all over the Spanish-speaking world. Compare that to the one-day Hispanic performing arts festival that Henley Street Festival put on in Richmond that same season. My role was directing a short, classic play from Spain. My fellow directors, actors, and dancers were all from Central Virginia. This was not an international collaboration. It was a celebration of Central Virginia’s Hispanic community. Both were wonderful events, but they were operating on completely different levels in terms of scope, budget, and ambition.

I often show work in New York. Earlier this year, for instance, one of my short films was screened at the New York Transit Museum and two others were selected for the Side of Eye Experimental Film Festival in Brooklyn. Whenever I plan to share my work outside of D.C. or Richmond, I’m a little scared. Honestly, it’s hard to leave home. But once I actually do it, I’m glad I did. People always assume I’m from wherever I’m sharing my work. They don’t treat me like an outsider. I think I have my mixed heritage and AmeriCorps to thank for that: I know how to navigate different cultures and I’ve learned how to talk to everybody, regardless of race or class. Even my most locally-focused work attempts to present something universal.

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The Dream Crypt. Digital collage, Christine Stoddard

http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/

http://www.worldofchristinestoddard.com/

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Les Femmes Folles is a completely volunteer run organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art with the online journal, anthologies, books, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012 and 2013, available on blurb.com, including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists. A portion of the proceeds from LFF books and products benefit the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Wanda Ewing Scholarship Fund.

Caroline Record, artist

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Caroline Record, 2014. Photo Credit: Lauren Goshinski. Courtesy of the artist.

Caroline Record is one of the artists exhibiting in SPACE Gallery’s Public Record exhibition opening Sept. 26 for Pittsburgh’s Biennial 2014. She generously shares with LFF about how she starting inventing her own systems for “capturing the subtleties around me that held poetic importance;” being an artist in Pittsburgh; her artistic process; feminism and much more…

Tell me about your background, how did you get into art/music?

I got into art at quite a young age through representational drawing. Drawing was my way of seeing and appreciating the complexity of the world when you let it wiggle loose of the names and symbols that are generally associated with it and tend to reduce what you are seeing. I remember being at a picnic as a young girl and I was just pouring bits of water onto the ground and I was totally entranced by how it moved and interacted with light.

I came to a certain point where I stopped drawing and started inventing my own systems for capturing the subtleties around me that held poetic importance; pouring wax into a river to capture its flow, spatially representing the sounds of a house. What remains from drawing is the process of looking intently and seeing artistic possibility in simple details.

What do you think of the Pittsburgh art scene?

I like the Pittsburgh art scene. I think there is a sincere interest and I enjoy how accessible and affordable it is for emerging artists. I particularly enjoy the Wood Street Gallery, the Mattress Factory, The Pillow Project, and Quantum Theater.
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The User Experience (performance stills), 2013.  Caroline Record, Geoffrey P. Morgan, Scott Steele, Pearlann Porter, Riva Strauss, The Pillow Project.


Do you think Pittsburgh is a good place for women in art and in general?

I am certainly aware of the fact that although the majority of people getting an art education are women, the majority of successful artists are men. This fact certainly points to some entrenched sexism, among other factors. The only time I have experienced this overtly was when I spoke to one art critic and he described me, as the kind of girl that can only hope to work for Tom Saks.  The implication being, that all I could aspire to would be working for a successful male artists, rather than becoming one myself.  For context, Tom Saks is an artist that works in New York and generally hires educated women to do the manual work that his art necessitates.

That said, I have never felt the least bit discriminated against as a working woman artist in Pittsburgh. I think that Pittsburgh is a fine place to develop your work as a young artist, whatever your gender. There are museums and universities that are constantly bringing in shows and lectures. There are exhibit opportunities for artists at all levels.

What could Pittsburgh do better to bring in more artists?

I’m personally a big fan of artists residencies. From the two residencies I have done, I have found them invaluable for creating the mental and physical space to move my artwork forward. Pittsburgh already has quite a few residency opportunities: The Children’s Museum‚ Tough Art Program, The Brew House Association Distillery Program, The Contemporary Craft Museum has some interesting opportunities. Where residencies are concerned, I think more is always better. I know there is also a new program opening up called the Nue Kirche Contemporary Art Center that will be providing studio space and critiques.
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Conflunce, 2013. Caroline Record and Justin Lin. Courtesy of the artist.

Tell me about your inspirations, process.
I find inspiration in generative systems, material opulence, performed difficulty, half-narratives and campy honesty. A few artist I enjoy include: Janet Cardiff, Shana Moulton, Kate Gilmore, Nick Van Woert, Mary Reid Kelley, Matthew Barney, Cornelia Parker, and Brody Condon.
On a more personal level, my image and object making comes from my imagined futures, desires, and fears; becoming a hated successful corporate professional, being the enactor or victim of a crime, the home that I will make. I use the ignorance, sincerity, and fictive natures of these sentiments to make work.
The act of representation is an act of translation, mapping from one matrix to another. At first I experienced this process through drawing, but this desire to transpose eventually led me to using technology to create my own mappings. My process is two fold; it consists of creating a system and then using it or subverting it to make work. I tend to make systems that make a performance out of an artifact that seems static. For example, I created a system that allowed you to draw with heat. The “drawing” was always a performance and never finished because the heat faded away at variable rates depending on the material. Another example is an experiment that I did where I played text back as a timeline of how it was typed; the white space between the text visualized the pauses the author took while typing. For pieces like these my process consists of capturing gestures and playing them back in a new context.

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She, 2013. Caroline Record. Courtesy of the artist.

Tell me about this exhibit, how it came together and why its important to you. What do you hope people get out of it?

The exhibit is called Public Record and it’s part of the Pittsburgh Biennial. It will open on September 26th at the Space Gallery. It features the work of 9 different Pittsburgh artists; Rafael Abreu-Canedo, Matthew Biederman, Carolina Loyola-Garcia, Paolo Pedercini, Paul Rosenblatt, Martha Rial, Susanne Slavick, Two Girls Working and me (Caroline Record). The title has nothing to do with my last name. it is pure coincidence.

I will be exhibiting a piece called, She, a singing printing sculpture. The idea started with an interest in performing the gesture and rhythm of typing. There is a mysterious somewhat corporate looking woman singing and typing in sync with the rhythm of a printer. Through out the course of the installation, the printer prints all 614 sentences in the novel Anna Karenina that start with the word, She. A few of the sentences include, “She passes the paper knife against the window pane.” and, “She was more splendid than he had imagined her.”  All these sentences end up as an opulent mess on the floor. My intention is to present this corporate woman in a haze of authorship.  The viewer can decide whether she is the muse, subject or author of this collection of curated sentences.
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Walls that Soak, 2014. Caroline Record and Leah Wulfman. Courtesy of the artist.

Does feminism play a role in your work?

As a woman, I am a feminist. I vehemently support equal rights and equal pay. I believe women have the right to dictate the rules when it comes to their bodies.

As an artist, I do not identify as exclusively a feminist artist. Like so many women artists, I don’t want my work to be viewed from that singular perspective. I have been influenced by women who depict themselves in their work, Ana Mendieta and Cindy Sherman in particular. I have always been fascinated with the fact that as women become more successful they become less likable according to a few studies. As a result, the idea of depicting an “evil woman” has been in the back of my mind when I do my work.

Advice for aspiring artists?
 
I am still very much in the category of aspiring artist, so I am not yet in that happy position to give advice.
I have found it useful to collaborate because it keeps you accountable to do what you say you will, stops you from getting too circular in your thinking, and let’s you do more ambitious projects. 
For artists leaving a more structured environment, It’s a dangerous transition; it’s so easy to let your art practice slip. I am at that point now and I am constantly promising myself to not let that happen, to fight for it.

carolinerecord.com
spacepittsburgh.org


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Les Femmes Folles is a completely volunteer run organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art with the online journal, anthologies, books, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012 and 2013, available on blurb.com, including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists. A portion of the proceeds from LFF books and products benefit the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Wanda Ewing Scholarship Fund.

“We invent the forms of resistance we wish to see”: a Roundtable Discussion with poets in Women Write Resistance

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October is Violence Against Women awareness month. To get ready for that, we bring together four poets from and the editor of the anthology Women Writing Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013) to discuss poetry of resistance, action, and inspiration. Women Write Resistance views poetry as a transformative art. By deploying techniques to challenge narratives about violence against women and making alternatives to that violence visible, poetry of resistance distinguishes itself by a persuasive rhetoric that asks readers to act. Leslie Adrienne Miller, Jennifer Perrine, Sara Henning, Sarah A. Chavez, and Laura Madeline Wiseman explore poetry of resistance in this roundtable discussion. These poets will be featured at the Omaha Lit Fest this weekend. This year’s festival theme is warped: historical in/accuracy.

Resistance is a theme in Women Write Resistance. How does resistance and action inspire your work?

Leslie Adrienne Miller: Writing poetry is itself an act of resistance because it’s generally not part of the terrible cycle of getting and spending that drives so much in our culture.  It has no real monetary value once produced, and it requires no real material resources to be produced.  Of course, there’s a literary culture out there driven by jobs, publications, grants, and social media, and access to education and time are necessary to enter into this culture, but even so, writing a poem for most of us generally means not doing something else that is part of the getting and spending culture, writing syllabi, gassing up the car, laying in provisions.  The time, focus and effort of writing a poem are always a time out from that culture, and as such, certainly an act of resistance against that culture, its economy, its power dynamics, its injustices, and pat beliefs. 

Sara Henning: I would say that my work is inseparable from resistance and action. 

Jennifer Perrine: Writers offer visions of resistance, exits from the roundabout of oppression and fear into which we’ve all been socialized.

Reading was perhaps my earliest glimpse into resistance. I knew so little of the long history of people acting in the interest of justice, a history that’s so often obscured in official accounts.

Writers, though, document alternate accounts. We invent the forms of resistance we wish to see, perhaps the ones we don’t know how to create yet in any world but that of the page or the stage or the screen. The books I’ve always loved—the ones that alter my understanding so much that I cannot help but be moved to act—are the same books I aim to write. I hope somewhere someone reads my work, and it helps that person know the next step to take.

Laura Madeline Wiseman: Resistance is a theme explored in Women Write Resistance. I am interested in the resistance of gender violence in poetry, but I am also interested in the idea of resistance in all forms of poetry and one of those forms is resistance to genre. When I was a kid and reading with a roving hunger, I must have gotten the idea that literature was kept in rigid genres. That there was something called fiction, poetry, sci-fi, thrillers, mysteries, fantasy, memoir, comics, bodice rippers, etc., it could be defined, and no crossovers between genres were possible, yet some of my most favorite authors wrote across genres such as Margaret Atwood. I would add to such genre-crossers Marge Piercy, Jeannette Winterson, Marian Zimmerman Bradley, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Julianna Baggott, and more. Such writers gave me the permission to write my sci-fi collection of poetry American Galactic as well as my fantasy chapbook Spindrift. Such resistance inspires me to write every day.

Sarah Chavez: Resistance is one of the most powerful driving forces behind my writing. I feel a great need to resist aspects of our culture that are constrictive, such as expectations of gender performance and ethnic performance, assumptions regarding what constitutes success, and the social construction that prizes one form of knowing as more valid than another. It’s this discomfort with those social constructions that spur my desire to write. And if desire in all its myriad forms isn’t a catalyst of action, I don’t what is.   

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Bios:
Sarah A. Chavez is a mestíza born and raised in the California Central Valley completing her PhD in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her work can be found in various publications such as Not Somewhere Else But Here: A Contemporary Anthology of Women and Place, the journals North American Review, The Fourth River, and others. Her chapbook All Day, Talking is forthcoming from dancing girl press in summer 2014. 

Sara Henning is the author of A Sweeter Water (Lavender Ink, 2013)as well as a chapbook, To Speak of Dahlias (Finishing Line Press, 2012).  Her poetry, fiction, interviews and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Willow Springs, Bombay Gin and the Crab Orchard Review.  Currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, she serves as Managing Editor for The South Dakota Review.

Jennifer Perrine is the author of The Body Is No Machine (New Issues), winner of the 2008 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry, and In the Human Zoo (University of Utah Press), recipient of the 2010 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize. In 2014, she will serve as a member of the U.S. Arts and Culture Delegation to Cuba. Perrine teaches in the English department and directs the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Drake University.

Leslie Adrienne Miller is author of six collections of poetry including Y, The Resurrection Trade and Eat Quite Everything You See from Graywolf Press, and Yesterday Had a Man in It, Ungodliness, and Staying Up For Love from Carnegie Mellon University Press. Professor of English at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Houston, an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, an M.A. from the University of Missouri, and a B.A. from Stephens College.

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of more than a dozen books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her recent books are American Galactic (Martian Lit Books, 2014), Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink, 2014), Queen of the Platform (Anaphora Literary Press, 2013), Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012), and the collaborative book Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles Books, 2014) with artist Sally Deskins. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mid-American Review, and Feminist Studies. www.lauramadelinewiseman.com

Omaha lit fest takes place Sept 14-15 in Omaha. Details and full schedule at omahalitfest.com.

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Les Femmes Folles is a completely volunteer run organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art with the online journal, anthologies, books, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including Intimates & Fools(Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012 and 2013, available on blurb.com, including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists. A portion of the proceeds from LFF books and products benefit the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Wanda Ewing Scholarship Fund.

 

Tanaz Bhathena, writer

Photograph of the writer by: MD Bhathen

Toronto-based writer Tanaz Bhathena shares with LFF about her themes related to social injustice; her process involving several drafts; her next event participating as a panelist at the Kriti Festival for South Asian Art and Literature in Chicago in September, feminism and much more…

Where are you from? How did you get into art?

I was born in Mumbai and grew up in Riyadh, Jeddah and Toronto. As a child, I was interested in all kinds of art forms: writing, drawing, singing, dancing. When I was younger, I wanted to be a cartoonist, but I quickly realized that I did not have the talent. Writing was the next best alternative (as I loved reading books more than anything else) and I was surprised to find that I was good at it – that people were always encouraging me to write more.    

Tell me about your inspirations, process.

I draw inspiration for my stories from real life. A lot of my fiction, mostly set in Saudi Arabia and India, is based on topics related to social injustice. I usually write for two or three hours in the morning before I start working for my day job. Sometimes the process is as easy as sitting down in front of the computer and getting the story right the first time. Most times, however, it can be difficult and several drafts are required for the story to take proper shape.  

Tell me about your current/upcoming show/exhibit/project and why its important to you.

I will be a panelist at the Kriti Festival for South Asian Art and Literature in Chicago from September 25-28. I am excited about this as it will be my first time on a panel, and that too in a city other than my own.

Do you think your city is a good place for women in art? Do you show your work elsewhere/is there a difference in how your work is received?

I think Toronto is a great city for women to showcase their art because it’s so multicultural. I did a reading for the Great Lakes Review magazine in Toronto this July and was a little nervous about how my piece (a story about a girl who moves to Canada from Saudi Arabia and goes to a Canadian high school) would be received. The audience was attentive and welcoming and laughed at all the right moments. From what I could tell, Torontonian audiences enjoy stories that contrast the cultural differences between Toronto and another city, but they especially love hearing stories about Toronto.

I will also be reading an excerpt from an unpublished novel at the Kriti Festival in Chicago in September. I am excited to see how it will be received there.  

Artist Wanda Ewing, who curated and titled the original LFF exhibit, said of her work: “I’ve been making provocative art with a political edge in my Midwestern hometown since 1999. And to do that, you have to be tenacious as hell.” Are you tenacious in your work or life? How so?

Tenacity is a prerequisite for entering a profession like writing. There is no guarantee that your work will be published, or that you will sell books even after publication. When I first decided that I wanted to write fiction professionally, I was a 21 year old B.Com grad with no knowledge about the publishing industry. I took a couple of writing courses, but mostly I educated myself by reading books, many books by many different authors. It took me four years to complete a collection of short stories and to find a literary agent.

After some extensive rewrites, my agent tried to sell the collection, but publishers wanted me to write a novel. I had to start from scratch again, picking out a single story of 4800 words and expanding it to 71,000 words. It took me another year and a half to do this. There were times when I wanted to pull out my hair in frustration (there are times that I still do.) My family and agent have been of great support to me during the process. We are currently looking for a publisher for this novel.  

Ewing, who examined perspective of femininity and race in her work, spoke positively of feminism, saying “yes, it is still relevant” to have exhibits and forums for women in art; does feminism play a role in your work?

I lived in Saudi Arabia for fifteen years, a country that imposes so many restrictions on women that, initially, seeing a woman drive a school bus in Canada was a shock to my system. One of my earliest short stories focused on a woman who broke the Saudi law against female driving to take her daughter to the hospital. In 2011, I was fortunate enough to have participated in an exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. This was for The Shoe Project, where eleven immigrant women wrote stories about the shoes they brought with them to Canada. My story, “The Wind beneath my Feet,” was part of a feature on CBC Radio One and was later published in its entirety in The Ottawa Citizen. The most rewarding thing, however, was to meet women from countries ranging from Iran to Brazil to Eritrea and hear their fascinating stories.

Feminism still plays a role in my work. In Qala Academy (the novel I’m hoping to get published), the protagonist is a teenage girl who struggles against the age old dictum about the sort of behavior expected from a girl in Middle Eastern and South Asian cultures. While most young women would buckle down and obey, she rebels and this novel is about the consequences of her rebellion.  

Ewing’s advice to aspiring artists was “you’ve got to develop the skill of when to listen and when not to;” and “Leave. Gain perspective.” What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

When I was thirteen years old, I had no idea that I would ever end up pursuing my dream career. You always have this idea that living your dream is an easy thing, but it isn’t. There are hurdles that you must cross. You need to accept that things aren’t always going to work out for you career-wise. You’ll likely get enough rejections to wallpaper your room. But you always need to keep pushing forward. There is no such thing as a lost opportunity. Doors close, doors open. At the end of the day, you need to remember why you started writing in the first place. You need to hold on to your happiness — the unique thrill that only comes from creativity.

http://tanazb.wordpress.com/

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Les Femmes Folles is a completely volunteer run organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art with the online journal, anthologies, books, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012 and 2013, available on blurb.com,(get 15% your blurb purchase using code BLURB2014 expires 8/27/14) including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists. A portion of the proceeds from LFF books and products benefit the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Wanda Ewing Scholarship Fund.

 

 

Sally Cooper, author

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Sally Cooper is the author of the novels Tell Everything and Love Object. She writes short fiction, too, and has a new story in the current issue of Great Lakes Review. She generously shares with LFF about working hard to become a writer; her evolving writing process; what she’s working on now; the thriving literary community in Ontario; feminism and more…

Where are you from?

A town of 400 people in the Caledon Hills of Ontario, Canada, an hour north of Toronto. These days, I make my home in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, known for its waterfalls and steel factories.

How did you get into art?

I’ve written poetry since grade school and always wanted to write/be a writer. I’ve learned that if I don’t structure my life around time to write that my wellbeing suffered. I took Creative Writing courses, went to readings, chatted up the writer-in-residence at the local library, joined a writing group, read at open mic nights and wrote and wrote and wrote. So, writing was always there, I always did it, but I also dreamed it and wanted it and worked hard at it.

Tell me about your inspirations/process.

My process has evolved over the years. Ideas come to me in different forms: a character; a place; a question; a voice. I used to immerse myself in the writing as soon as the idea came, if not before. With my current project, a novel, I wrote a plan. I also gave myself challenges or restrictions that push me outside what I’m good at, push me into unknown territory. For instance, in my recent work I’m using multiple voices where in the past I’ve told stories from one point of view. Walking the tension between what’s out of my reach and what’s known invigorates the work.

Tell me about your current project and why it’s important to you.

I’m working on two. One is a novel I’ve been writing for years. The other is a novel-in-stories called Ripple. The stories in Ripple span thirty years in the characters’ lives and it feels like I’ve been writing them just as long. Not really (though “Canicular Days” was one of the first I ever published.) Another story, “The Renewal of Foggia,” appears in the current issue of The Great Lakes Review. What I loved about writing this story was the challenge and tension of using a wisecracking voice to tell a story full of longing and sadness and power. It’s a story about pranks and jokes and fooling ourselves. It’s the kind of story I like to read, so I’m happy it’s found a home.

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Do you think your city is a good place for women in art?

I can only speak peripherally about other art forms, but my city does have a thriving literary community, equally embracing and supportive and men and women. We have a reading series; a literary festival; independent bookstores and arts awards.

Are you tenacious in your work or life? How so?

Absolutely. I’m raising two daughters while working as a professor and writing novels. I am ferocious about my writing time – even if it’s four hours a week, as it has been – I’m there at the table getting the words down. I’m equally ferocious about my children and my time with them and the rhythm and regularity of that. I am slow and steady, a drop at a time, but writing happens and I do finish things.

Does feminism play a role in your work?

I had to think about this question. Themes don’t reveal themselves to me until I’m well into a project if not finished it. My second novel, Tell Everything, explores the treatment female predators receive in the media, in the courtroom and even in our private assessments of them. Consent, privacy, victimhood, truth-telling: these themes all come into play. In Tell Everything, as well as my stories, my characters have varying levels of awareness of how being female affects their choices and lots in life. Throughout my work is an abiding sense of the integrity and necessity of having a voice and using it.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Do whatever you have to do to make it work for you. There is no one path to making art. Make the time and the space in your life then make the art. There is no secret beyond that. And the more you do it, the longer you do it for, the better, the deeper, the more connected the work will get. And if sometimes you don’t do it, that’s okay, too. The return will be sweeter for the absence.

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Sally Cooper is a bold, powerful writer who lays bare the human heart. The author of acclaimed novels Love Object and Tell Everything, Sally Cooper has published short stories in several magazines such as GrainEvent and Great Lakes Review. A long-time professor at Humber College, Sally Cooper happily devotes her time to writing and raising her two children.

Twitter: @cooper_sally
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Les Femmes Folles is a completely volunteer run organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art with the online journal, anthologies, books, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012 and 2013, available on blurb.com, including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists. A portion of the proceeds from LFF books and products benefit the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Wanda Ewing Scholarship Fund.

Luna Luna interviews Orenda Fink

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The following article is a re-post from Luna Luna Magazine of an interview by  with musical artist Orenda Fink (LFF May 26, 2011) with permission from the editors…

Saddle Creek artist Orenda Fink is back and about to drop her next solo album Blue Dream (available August 19th). It rises in the wake of a period of mourning, fueled by introspective meditation on life and death, and dreams. We had the chance to talk with this enchanting songstress about her musical journey and the surreal undercurrents of her forthcoming album.

Photo by  Bill Sitzmann

Photo by Bill Sitzman


Hello! Congratulations on your upcoming album, Blue Dream. We’re very much looking forward to its release. Can you give us some background on it? What can we expect to hear?

I wrote Blue Dream after an extended period of mourning for my dog, Wilson, who died two summers ago.  His death affected me in ways I never would have anticipated and left me searching for a framework to understand life, death and the afterlife.  For about six months I was flailing and fell into a deep depression.  It was then that I started seeing a psychotherapist who specializes in Jungian dream analysis.  I started having dreams of epic proportions after just one session and spent the next year living between dreaming and waking life—recording, studying and analyzing every dream I had.  Slowly, they began to tell a story—about death, the afterlife, love, dreams and how they are all connected.  It was coming out of this time period that I began to write what became Blue Dream.

What are some inspirations behind the songs?

Love, life, the afterlife, death, dreams, opening your heart and surrendering to the mystery.

You’ve hand-made special dream journals limited to the first 100 to pre-order your album. We’re intrigued! What inspired you to craft these journals for your fans? We’d love to hear more about them.

My dream journals were so integral to my journey that I wanted to encourage others to record and meditate on their dreams also.  I believe there is a great source of wisdom there, greater than we could ever know and it resides inside each and every one of us.

You seem to be a master multitasker, with projects going like Azure Ray, O+S, and solo projects to name a few.  How do you keep up that (let’s be real, impressive) momentum?

Ha! Thank you.  I think I can be a very focused and determined person at times—especially when I feel passionate about what I’m doing.  I’m incredibly lucky to have such amazing collaborators to share visions with- whether it’s a band, label, co-writer, musician, film maker, visual artist  or recording engineer or producer.  They help make most of my ideas possible so I owe a lot to them.  I also allow myself to check out whenever I need to.  If I work for a month or two straight, I’ll take three days off and netflix binge or take a trip.  I try to listen to my mind and body and let it tell me what it needs.

Did you know from the start that the songs that comprise Blue Dream were meant for a solo endeavor?

Yes and no.  I didn’t start out to write a new solo record necessarily, but I did know that these songs were so personal and connected to one another that they made sense to be solo songs.  It wasn’t until I had written them all that I took a step back and realized that I had written a record.

We read the hilarious, insightful list you compiled for Ranker, “11 Things You Should Know About Your Musician Friends,” and loved it. It sounds like a cyclical process with potential to be wonderful but also high stress. That said, we have to ask: what’s your favorite part of the process?

Ha!  That list was definitely meant to be tongue-in-cheek.  I did not expect over a million people to read it!  That said, it certainly describes most parts of my life and it must have resonated with people somehow.  In a way, I think it’s good to get people thinking and talking about alternative lifestyles- maybe challenging their notions about what is the “correct” way to live in our society.  Because, god knows, as Americans we have been sold a bill of goods in regards to the merits of conformity.  And honestly I don’t think of it as a process when I’m living it.  It’s just—life.  And just like life there are ups and downs to every part of the process.

And how do you handle the more hectic parts?

When my Virgo nature takes over I can be a pretty high-strung individual, so I try and find ways to center myself.  I have little mantras and reminders about what is most important in life- finding joy in what you are doing, maintaining loving relationships, taking responsibility for yourself, keeping a pure heart.  It’s a constant battle against my flawed human nature, but I find a little awareness goes a long way.  Oh, and there’s also wine.

When did you first know that music was your calling?

In high school, after I met Maria Taylor.  We started a band together and never looked back.

Your band Azure Ray formed in Birmingham Alabama, but made the decision pretty early on to relocate to Omaha, Nebraska. What inspired the move? We hear all the time about bands moving to New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville—but seldom the midwest.

Actually, Maria and I had been playing music together in Birmingham since high school, but we formed Azure Ray in Athens, Georgia, where we lived for six years.  We moved to Omaha from Athens mainly because I was dating Todd (from The Faint) and Maria, at the time, was dating Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes).  So both of our boyfriends lived in Omaha, and once we started putting out records with Saddle Creek, it just made sense to make the move.

Who are some of the people that inspire you most?

I’ve been very inspired by Alejandro Jodorowsky lately.  But mostly I’m inspired by my friends and family.  They are amazing people to be surrounded by.

What are some things you’d say to aspiring independent artists out there? Any words of wisdom you’d like to impart?

The most important thing, in my mind, for an independent artist, is to put everything into your art.  Develop a vision and then work to create it.  The business is so saturated with content now because of the internet that anything less than is likely to get lost in the ether.  But most importantly, if you have expressed your vision exactly how you want to, ultimately it does’t matter how “successful” it is.  It just matters that you created the gift of art and gave it to the world.

And lastly: What’s next on the horizon?

I’ll be heading out for a full US solo tour in September.  I’m very excited for that!

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Blue Dream will be available in stores August 19! Pre-order your copy here!

www.orendafink.com

Photos by Bill Sitzmann courtesy of Big Hassle

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Luna Luna, or Haus of Luna Luna, is a diary of ideas and a place for dialogue. We’re focused on progressive, intelligent writing on the topics of society & culture with an emphasis on creativity, service and confession. We also provide forum for literary news, poetry and prose.

http://lunalunamag.com/

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Les Femmes Folles is a completely volunteer run organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art with the online journal, anthologies, books, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012 and 2013, available on blurb.com, including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists. A portion of the proceeds from LFF books and products benefit the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Wanda Ewing Scholarship Fund.

Marlana Adele Vassar, artist

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“Untitled” drawing by Marlana Adele Vassar

Pittsburgh-based artist Marlana Adele Vassar is currently showing in Pennsylvania’s Touchstone Center for Crafts exhibit, “Natural Selection.” She generously shares about her inspirations between fantasy and reality; her next project of a graphic novel; the underlying feminist message in her work; some of her latest work and much more…*Stay tuned for an accompanying interview on Pittsburgh Articulate…

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"Exit Strategy"

Where are you from? How did you get into art?

I’m from Uniontown Pennsylvania, lived in a few other cities but kind of boomeranged back here for a commission and stayed for a graphic design position. But my heart is in the city, so now I live/work in Uniontown and Pittsburgh.

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“Dance in the Dark”

What do you think of the Pittsburgh art scene?

I think the Pittsburgh art scene around (at least from what I’ve experienced) is more mainstream than fringe, but it’s changing. I left the Pittsburgh area in 2005, spent a few years in Philadelphia with a slight detour through San Francisco, then came back a few years ago. Now I’m noticing there’s a lot more installation art and edgier work making its way through the city. I believe it’s a positive change as it gives artists of all styles and art enthusiasts in the city a new perspective. Variety and balance is always good for the community.

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“Double Star”

Do you think Pittsburgh is a good place for women in art?

I think the art world is generally tough for women, but in Pittsburgh there are lots of opportunities for women. I remember that just a few years ago, I was the only woman at one of my galleries but now the roster is filling up with women, which is great. I’ve had two residencies so far, one with the August Wilson Center and another ongoing one with Gateway to the Arts, and in both of those residencies the majority of the artists were female. One Pittsburgh show that was memorable for me was the “Mean Girls” show at SPACE last year, which dealt with issues of bullying and feminism. The roster included all female artists, and several of them live and work in Pittsburgh. As for Uniontown, the art community is small but most of the shows I’ve heard of at Nemacolin and around the Fayette area have featured women in groups or solos. So I’d say that this area is pretty good for women in art.

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"Heavy Dream"

Tell me about your inspirations, process.

My style and process is inspired by symbolism and surrealism. I’ve always been into fantasy art but am intrigued by realism too, so I’ve my style lies between reality and dreams. I wasn’t satisfied with creating images that were just beautiful though, so I incorporate elements like personal stories, symbolic mediums and text to add some depth to my work.

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“Audra”

Tell me about your current/upcoming show/exhibit/project and why its important to you.

My show that’s on display right now is at the Touchstone Center for Crafts , it’s called “Natural Selection” and has figures intertwined with natural environments and organic themes. Besides this show, I recently designed a tarot card for 78Tarot , and I’m working on my first graphic novel/written novel project entitled “In Medias Res”. It’s a multi-genre story told through the memories of the characters, and is the first installment of a series. The written portion will be completed by the Fall of 2014, and I plan to self-publish the novel via Kickstarter.

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“He’s Never Coming Back”

Do you show your work elsewhere/is there a difference in how your work is received?

I’ve shown in spaces outside of the area, but it’s been in group settings so it’s hard to say. My goal is to have a solo show outside of Pennsylvania someday soon, then I might have a better comparison. My art has always been a difficult fit, because it’s a little imaginary, a little realism, there’s an afro-futuristic slant to some of it and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it should hang. So I just go wherever my art is accepted! I’ve noticed that generally, the artwork in places like Florida, New York and the west coast have more acceptance of illustrative work, whereas Southwestern Pennsylvania appreciates more mainstream styles. I think that’s changing a here and there though. Just in the last few years I’ve noticed that pop-surrealism and underground/illustrative works are gaining more exposure around Pittsburgh, which is nice. I feel like there’s room for everyone to be accepted around here.image

“His and Her Circumstances”

Artist Wanda Ewing, who curated and titled the original LFF exhibit, said of her work: “I’ve been making provocative art with a political edge in my Midwestern hometown since 1999. And to do that, you have to be tenacious as hell.” Are you tenacious in  your work or life? How so?

Oh yes, there’s no choice. You have to be tenacious. It’s funny because there are so many times throughout the year (and even now as I’m writing this) when I think about giving up and doing something else, but I’m not sure what I’d do instead of art! I apply to lots of galleries, museums and art spaces throughout the year but only a few will say “maybe” or “yes”. People look at something on my resume and tell me I’m lucky, but don’t realize that for every opportunity I’ve had there’s been dozens upon dozens of rejections that preceded those gigs. As a matter fact, right now I have nothing lined up for 2015 gallery shows, because there wasn’t any interest right now in the places I applied to last year. It was disappointing, but I decided to stay busy, keep painting/drawing and pursue the graphic novel project since that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. You just have to keep trying and submit everything you can, and when that fails you give yourself other projects to do. Keep making art, because most of the opportunities come along when you’re not looking.

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"Meaningless Words and Fading Memories"

Ewing, who examined perspective of femininity and race in her work, spoke positively of feminism, saying “yes, it is still relevant” to have exhibits and forums for women in art; does feminism play a role in your work?

When I first started showing my work, I don’t think I intentionally tried to make the pieces about feminism. However I do think that there is an underlying feminist tone with my work now, or perhaps there always was and now I’m more aware of it. Early on I was content with making pretty figures but as my ideas evolved, so did the characters and the stories behind each work. People tend to think that my goal is simply beauty, and while I do keep aesthetics in mind the heart of the piece is a character with layers and different facets, just like real people. So I develop backstories for them and include my own account through symbols in the figures, materials and settings. Damsels in distress don’t resonate with me, so I try to develop strong, independent female characters that have beauty, brains and a backbone.

Ewing’s advice to aspiring artists was “you’ve got to develop the skill of when to listen and when not to;” and “Leave. Gain perspective.” What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Don’t stop creating!

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“Surma”

http://www.marlana.me/

Facebook - Marlana Adele Vassar

Twitter - Marlana Adele 

Instagram

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Marlana’s work will be on display in the Iron Gate Gallery at the Touchstone Center for Arts in Farmington, PA, from July 14 through September 22, 2014.  Details can be found at http://touchstonecrafts.org/Events&Exhibitions.

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Les Femmes Folles is a completely volunteer run organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art with the online journal, anthologies, books, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012 and 2013, available on blurb.com,(get 15% your blurb purchase using code BLURB2014 expires 8/27/14) including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists. A portion of the proceeds from LFF books and products benefit the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Wanda Ewing Scholarship Fund.

sallydeskins:

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I got to discuss nuances of artistry, being an artist in Pittsburgh, and notably, being a mother-artist with this amazing group of women last night, also the last night of my exhibition at Future Tenant Gallery, “What Will Her Kid Think?”!

Left to right (click links for more information on…

Beatriz Albuquerque, artist

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Beatriz Albuquerque, Performance Color, 2008 PerforArtNet 2008, Galeria Santa Fe, Casa tres Patios, Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Bogota / Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Caracas, Fundacion Nelson Garrido, Bogota – Columbia / Caracas – Venezuela.

Beatriz Albuquerque is an interdisciplinary Portuguese artist living in New York. She is known for her interdisciplinary practices between performance and cross media. She has developed an autonomous work in which performance art is her central focal point. She was recently awarded the Revelation Award (Prémio Revelação), 17ª Biennial de Cerveira, Portugal (2013). She was also awarded the Myers Art Prize: cross media, Columbia University, New York (2009) and the Ambient Series Performance Award, PAC / edge Performance Festival, Chicago (2005). She generously shares with LFF about the impact of seeing an art performance as a small child, her inspirations and process, her current project dealing with capitalism and society and much more…


Where are you from? How did you get into art/performing?

BA: I am an interdisciplinary and cross media performance artist from Porto, Portugal.

I remember being a small kid and seeing a performance from a Portuguese artist that now I know his name - Albuquerque Mendes. I remember thinking until that moment that art was an object such as painting and sculpture and nothing else. But this 1st encounter I remember entering the space and seeing a crowd watching a person doing movement with dust and fire and then turning to my mother, fascinated and asked, “What is this”, she replied “It is art. It is a performance.”
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Beatriz Albuquerque, Performance Crise no Amor, 2010 Triangle Arts Trust International Residence, Home and Abroad, Sintra - Portugal.


Tell me about your inspirations, process.

BA: My inspiration comes from everyday life and the office that is my head so I´m always creating and developing projects wherever I am physically. My process continues then after inspiration and by creating 2-D forms such as writing, drawings, sketches and photos of the project. Then I transform it into 3D forms such as mockups or even 3D printed sculptures which then became an installation in which I perform in it. I believe that the body is what gives identity and through the body performance appears. Performance is an extension of the body. The extension of the performance is 3D sculpture, photo or video and an extension of this is installation.

Tell me about your current project and why its important to you.

BA: I believe that art should reach out to all persons. Thinking about this and the Capitalistic society and commercial world that we live in, I created my on-going performance project “Work For Free,” in which I offer myself to work for free creating any artwork that the public desires. This performance action is a social gift in which a work of art is fashioned especially for the person that interacts with the performance. This free artwork can be chosen from different pool of mediums such as: e-mail art, digital photo, web art, digital drawing, decollage, among others. Until now, this Project has been done in different countries and venues such as New York, Macy Gallery or Grecce, Biennial of Thessaloniki, and I created until now a total of 183 free works of art customized for the active audience.

I believe that art can bring change to the persons that are touched by it and then these persons change the world. Activism is a practice that is always active in my artwork and Projects. An example of this is my recent performance/installation on-going project called Crisis of Luck, as a response to the crisis in Portugal and Europe, where I presented myself as an oracle priestess who foretells and responds to questions asked pertaining to the crisis that we live in, and provide the solution to the problems. From this premise, an installation was created in the space using 3D sculpture, photo, video and food in which the public was invited to enter and interact with the performer, who responded to their problems and misfortunes. In this idea, I became an oracle that answered all questions for the audience in three forms: verbally, written and through a customized cake.
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Beatriz Albuquerque, Performance Crise na Fortuna / Crisis of Luck, 2013 17ª Bienal de Cerveira: Arte: Crise e Transformação, Vila Nova de Cerveira - Portugal.

Does feminism play a role in your work?
I believe that all men and women are equal  and deserve the same opportunities and rights. In this way feminism always plays a role in my performances.

However, before 2005 I created performance pieces that addressed the gap or lack of equal rights between men and women, the condition and descrimination of women in relation with men. At this time I was living in Portugal and I could see the lack of oportunites and descrimination that women were suffering from, for example in the job/work force. Once I saw an ad asking for a white man (computer trouble shooting) for one job and a woman for another (secretary). So I was developing themes in my artwork and performances related to the environment and daily life that I was experiencing. By 2005 I went to undertake an MFA at SAIC, this was my first contact with the USA. This lead me to explore different themes in my performances as it was such a shock coming from a socialist society to be confronted with a capitalist society.

Advice for aspiring artists?
You have the power to choose your life the way you want it and the power to achieve it.

www.beatrizalbuquerque.web.pt

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Les Femmes Folles is a completely volunteer run organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art with the online journal, anthologies, books, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins.  LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012 and 2013, available on blurb.com,(get 15% your blurb purchase using code BLURB2014 expires 8/27/14) including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists. A portion of the proceeds from LFF books and products benefit the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Wanda Ewing Scholarship Fund.

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