March is Women’s History month here in the U.S. Women are spectacular and women’s day is every day in my world. Well some of my favorite women, the women of #UntamedStyle, have gotten together for March to celebrate Women with this month’s theme of Girl Gang. I was reminded of feminists icon, Judy Chicago’s feminist art installation, The Dinner Party which I had the chance to see when it was installed in the Brooklyn Museum. If I could gather any group of women together for my Dream Dinner Party it would be much more intimate then over a 1,000 women represented in that work of art. Maybe 6 iconic living or dead women who fascinate me. I would love to pick their brains, share our experiences and lure them into becoming members of my girl gang.
THE MENU & SETTING
I’d take a page from Frida Kahlo’s cookbook and prepare a Zucchini Salad, have a wine seltzer and fresh fruit bar for improvised Sangria. I would invite everyone to bring a dish of their creation, after all, we’re all creatives here. We’d mill and settle as we please around a lovely outdoor area with candles and faerie lights for when the wind picked up. I imagine lots of foliage and lush flowers. More lanterns to move with us as our engrossing conversation leads us easily all night.
THE GUEST LIST Nona Faustine, a radiant artist whose projects rock my world! In her artist statement, Nona says that her “work starts where intersecting identities meet history. Through self-portraiture, I explore issues about the body within photography.” One of her most mesmerizing works is the “White Shoes” series. She tours locations of New York City’s 250-year history of hidden slavery through photographs. In these locations, she takes nude self-portraits in white shoes. Stunning, shocking, and moving are these intersections. Nona Faustine currently has a GoFundMe along with amazing photographer Marilynn Nance to fund their travel to “Black Portraiture[s] II: Imaging the Black Body and Restaging Histories”, conference in Italy. Yes Nona, so much yes.
Iris Apfel is a Style Genius, in her youth she worked for Women’s Wear Daily, became an interior designer and along with her husband ran a textile imports company. Let’s not even mention her huge collection of vintage costume jewelry. GaH! I would love to sit down with her and pick her brain for fashion and design stories for days. At 93 years old her wit is as sharp as ever and she is about to finally be the star of a documentary of her life. I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. But I’d rather sit and talk to the woman whose wardrobe was worthy of a museum exhibition, fabulous Iris.
Carol Rossetti, you know. If you don’t know her by her name you know her by her deceptively simple and kind Women Project. The illustrator and designer created a series of biographical images of named women, some inspired by women she knew personally and many more as a result of fans contributing to her work. These simple illustrations are lessons in identity politics. In her project statement she says “I feel very disturbed by the world’s attempts to control women’s bodies, behaviors, and identities; so I’ve started a series of illustrations in a friendly tone hoping to reach people about how absurd this really is.” Her illustrations of women with names and identities completely their own, and without apology have been translated into innumerable languages. Any woman can relate to this important body of work that will soon become a book. Carol inspires!
Maya Angelou was lost to our physical world in May of 2014. She posthumously released a recording completed before her death of a collaborative hip hop album of her seminal work I know why the Caged Bird Sings. The album is called Caged Bird Songs and it is amazing. What is most interesting for me about the project is that through it I learned that Maya Angelou – before she was one of our most revered poets – was a musician, a calypso singer, and modern dancer. I have fallen in love with Maya all over again. I would love to spend some time with the divine Ms. Angelou.
Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski. There is little I can say that can begin to summarize the work of this Queer mixed Afro-Latina artist. Her artist statement speaks for itself. I can only offer the final paragraph of it for you to – like me – imagine how amazing her company might be. ” I call my works experiments because I don’t see them as conclusive or original. I am acutely aware that whatever I make is in constant dialog with what has been made before, and see my practice as a continuation of variables that are in the persistent rotation to produce unending results. I experiment so that I may allow myself the freedom to change my mind, to be pushed into new ways of thinking, making, and naming. I am interested in using the future as a site of experimentation, as well as a space to gain freedom and visibility around the conversations of race, gender, sexuality, and class. I see this making a kind of sympathetic magic. Not because it calls into being that which is rendered, but because it calls into question that which has already been, and dreams up that which could be.” Sounds like magic to me.
Ruth Asawa was an incredible artist. She is known for both her large-scale public sculptures in San Francisco, co-founding the Alvarado Arts Workshop for young students developing a teaching method for arts and gardening used all over the bay area. She died in 2013 after living with Lupus since 1984. My favorite work of hers are her wire sculptures, pictured below. I would love to engage with this forward thinker and creative mind.
And there you have an amazing Dinner Party my loves and secret Fantasy Girl Gang. I think I would call it a gathering of Unicorns. Who would be on your Guest List? Check out some members of my real life Girl Gang, my #UntamedStyle Cohorts on their amazing blogs: Michelle, Margot & Veronica