Book Riot

Hello dear Readers!

Just a quick note: I'm thrilled to announce that I am now a regular contributor of Book Riot. Here is my first official post as a contributor to Book Riot: https://bookriot.com/2017/10/17/edgar-allen-poe/

Still working my way through the interviews; the oral history book is a process. I'm just excited that I'll be able to talk about the great work of women at Book Riot (well, after this post on Edgar Allen Poe!).

That's all!

Surprise in Delaware!

This summer has been filled with adventure and art. As it should be.

Just a few things about summer adventures relating to women in the arts.

I had the opportunity to cap off the summer with a trip to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, DE. We were in town for a college friend's wedding. The museum was delightful. It had a lot of work of illustrators from the 1900s; the collection was centered around turn of the century illustrator Howard Pyle.

But what was particularly impressive was the presence of female artists throughout the museum. Almost every gallery had at least one piece by a woman. While yes, this does not mean the distribution was 50/50 but I can recall only one other time that I noticed the inclusion of women artists that wasn't a specific show for women. For instance, in the Pre-Raphaelite section, there was a painting of Dante's Beatrice by Marie Spartali Stillman. Another gallery of illustrators had a wonderful piece of two girls and a squirrel by Katherine Richardson Wireman. The abstract/contemporary art gallery had a work about Eleanore of Aquitaine by Grace Hartigan. It was pretty awesome. They did have a gallery dedicated to contemporary local female artists, which was cool. But here was a museum that had tried to be more inclusive of female artists. There's room for improvement but it's a step in the right direction.

To leave you all with another nugget, here's an article by the Guardian about non-English female writers are translated less than their male compatriots.

That's all for now.

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Summertime...

Hello, Readers!

It's been a little while since I last posted. Summer is an exciting time in Chicago. My mom compares it to a flower finally blossoming. 

The past few months have been very busy. I moved, began working hard at freelancing, writing fiction and poetry, and so much more. I'm still working, slowly but surely, on the transcriptions. 

To give you some ear candy for the rest of your summer, check out LeVar Burton Reads' Episode 5 "What Does It Mean When a Man Falls from the Sky" by Lesley Nkena Arimah. It's a pretty great story. I can't wait to read more of her work.

It's been an exciting summer for public art. The Floating Museum just docked downtown on the river, which is pretty cool. It opens today, Tuesday the 15th. Krista Franklin, Maria Gaspar, and Edra Soto are three of the many contributing artists. Pretty sweet!

That's all for now!

Other Writing

It's been a busy month! As I continue to work my way through all of the interviews, I've also embarked on freelance writing. And I've been extremely fortunate to have published two pieces this month. Enjoy!

Hiking with Stonewall

 https://sonderers.com/spring-nature/hiking-with-stonewall

The King of Michigan Avenue

http://www.humansandnature.org/the-king-of-michigan-avenue

 

Musings

I recently subscribed to Maria Popova's Brainpickings newsletter. I highly recommend checking it out. Every Sunday, a thoughtful newsletter comes out that is well worth a read.

This week, Maria Popova came out with an essay "Rebecca Solnit on Breaking Silence as Our Mightiest Weapon Against Oppression." In the meditation about silence and society, this quotation really spoke to me: "The task of calling things by their true names, of telling the truth to the best of our abilities, of knowing how we got here, of listening particularly to those who have been silenced in the past, of seeing how the myriad stories fit together and break apart, of using any privilege we may have been handed to undo privilege or expand its scope is each of our tasks. It’s how we make the world." It reminded me a lot of what this project and other oral histories are about. It's about reclaiming a silenced history, bringing it out into the open, celebrating and shouting to everyone about it. I guess I need to go read some more Rebecca Solnit.

Other news this week: I had the privilege of hearing the incredible Shirin Neshat speak at the MCA. She gave a short lecture, showed a recent video piece she made, and then did a QA.

A few choice quotations (a little bit of paraphrasing): 

When talking about her choice of myriad mediums including photography, video, film, and even more recently opera, she explained: "I like being a beginner. I like the struggle. I like learning new languages...My strength is to constantly experiment." This was like music to my ears. I constantly like to learn new things myself and I feel she encapsulated how I feel about it. Not that everything is smooth going, there's a lot of bumps when learning something new, but the joy in discovery is a constant.

She also noted: "Poetry is subversive, yet a universal language for Iran." I like this idea of poetry, not just in the context of Iran. There's a lot that can be said in poetry that may not be easily said elsewhere. But there's a universality to poetry that we sometimes forget. We had the storytellers who were poets that were the public entertainment going back 1000s of years. Now, poetry sometimes is seen as very distant from the ordinary experience but that's not true. Music is a manifestation of poetry, words accompanied by melody and harmonies. 

Anyway, just some early April musings. 

Also, a reminder that my Kickstarter for the literary journal The Antelope Magazine is still running. It's a journal of oral history and mayhem! Help support it today! 

That's all for now.

10th Annual International SWAN Day

Happy 10th Annual International SWAN day! What a feat! There are celebrations going on around the world, celebrating the great work of women artists everywhere. Moreover, I'm excited because it means that my website is also two years old. I launched it on SWAN day 2015. So holy cow!

I'll tell you how I'm celebrating SWAN day. This week, I've spent a lot of time working on my book. I'm reviewing transcripts and editing portions for the book itself. Very exciting. On Thursday, I went to see the amazing Misty Copeland with the Chicago Humanities Festival. Last night, we saw the incredible Regina Spektor at the Chicago Theater. Today, I finished Ann Petry's heartbreaking and beautifully written The Street

And I'm just getting started.

What are you doing to celebrate and support women artists now? Today? Tomorrow?

I can't wait to hear all the amazing ways you all have been supporting women artists.

Conversation with Danielle Tanimura

With this recent political environment, I wanted to share a part of the interview I did with Danielle Tanimura, the last woman I interviewed for this project. Danielle is a transgender photomancer; her incredible work explores history and identity. Danielle and I have been friends since middle school. I was really pleased to have the opportunity to interview her about her work.

Elisa Shoenberger
I wanted to talk a little bit more about I think your more recent series, “Black Rain,” which you described as “a lonesome sprawling mega-cities draped in 80’s neon cyber-gutterpunk divinity.” How would you describe it?

Danielle Tanimura
That was a departure in a way from where I’d been because I spend a lot of time looking on the past in terms of family history towards these things. At a certain point it started coming around to: “Alright, at least from my chronic pain-wise, I’m out most of the woods. I have managed this. Alright, how about that gender dysphoria you were working on for a while there?” And I was like: “Hmm, how about that? Are you going to work on that?” It’s like: “Okay, how about your art?” All right, fine, I’ll get there too. So as an extreme departure was in a way: “Let’s take this on. Where are we right now? What do you need? What is this for? What are you going to do with it?” It’s like: “You’ve done the show. You’ve had the thing.” I feel like artist kind of now, not that I hadn’t before, but having first solo show solidly  in Chicago art community. I feel like I’m doing that now, but let’s take a look at where you’re at and being able to kind of contrast this dark strange world with still continued spirit of beauty and danger side of that and more about obvious reflection of where I wanted to see myself and  in some weird ways self-portraits as always in some ways just exploring what that looked like.

So I don’t know, it’s kind of where “Black Rain” came in. Plus the title itself, “Black Rain” is what happens after you drop an atomic bomb. It happened in Hiroshima. That’s how at least two of my grandma’s nieces died in the bombing because they lived outside of the valley on a farm. But the two nieces were going to school that day on the bus and they’re lost. Their mom later died of leukemia, but that was due to what happened following was the black rain. What happens is after you drop an A bomb, the radiation waste with that kind of bomb fills up the atmosphere. It changes the weather. It changes everything and what you end up with is radiated water in the air and it rains black literally and those few it rained on…. And yet all these people were survived the bombs, like covered in burns, and it rained, so they stood out in the rain or they couldn’t get away from it. But a lot of people died secondarily because of the black rain and this was all science and experiment at the time. No one knew and they came in and studied, but that’s where “Black Rain,” the title, came. Here’s the after effects. Here’s the storm that comes after. You thought it was over, but it’s not gone. That radiation lingers and my love of anime and my love of what it felt like going to Hiroshima now. Aside from the monuments, you can’t tell there was a nuclear explosion there. You couldn’t tell that it was the end of the world 70 years ago. It’s back and we move forward, but what happens when you accept that the wounds are there?  We’ve healed over it, but there’s still that scar. What does that mean? For me personally on a lot of levels, what was this like? That’s where that come from so….

A huge part of it was that I never did the cutting out pictures of the person I want[ed] to be from a magazine in middle school and cover my walls because that was not part of my experience. But it’s when you think about looking at images of what is femininity, what is woman, what is that and being like: “Alright, all these things and it’d be a Pinterest board now,” but it’s valid. Cuts from magazine saying: “Well these are all those things that I wish I was. I’m never going to get there.” That was part of what that series is about was like: “Alright, let’s just dial up the dysphoria and the fear and the panic and at the same time, let’s embrace this a little bit and explore it.” It became this kind of incensed real pointed journey and into this atmospheric new place, so yeah.

I asked her about Chicago and her influence on her art.

Danielle Tanimura
Right, just looking around, the neighborhoods we have community that’s being built and, I don’t know, it’s hard to get away from the timing of all this stuff. It was just the weekend following the election, as was planned, we went and saw Amanda Palmer here, one of my heroes, and it was just an amazing experience because it was kind of like all these people going to church. I don’t go to church, but I [was] going to church surrounded by people of certain idea of what art can do and here we are. And just hearing common voice turn steady. Alright, what I’ve read and what I felt is the things that’s panicking people is that you have the majority of people on liberal side of things nationally feeling dysphoria. This is what dysphoria is when you look at yourself in the mirror and you think: “I don’t recognize this. I don’t see this. This is alien. This is crazy. I don’t feel comfortable. I don’t know what’s going on,” and that’s happening nationally. Chicago has been doing that since we started. This has never been settled and everyone’s working to make their bit better despite the odds, and it’s true in the art world too. That’s very much there being the Second City is something that we suffer and also benefit from,  because whatever you’re doing it’s new.

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To see Danielle’s work including Black Rain, check out her website: http://www.musashimixinq.com/

Antelope Magazine

Over the past year, Meghan McGrath and I have been working on launching  a new literary magazine called the Antelope Magazine: A Journal of Oral Histories and Mayhem. It's based on  Suzanne Briet’s “What is Documentation?” (1951) where she expands the notion of what a document can be. She uses an antelope as an example: it can be photographed, drawn, recorded and taxidermied when it dies. The antelope is a document.

The Antelope Magazine is attempting to provide a diversity of mediums in honor of this idea. The magazine's inaugural theme is Flight. We have oral histories with beekeepers, pilots, drone enthusiasts, interviews with ecologists, photographs of aerialists and hot air balloons, cartoons about evil birds, and much more. 

This is a labor of love of Meghan and me. We are doing this to spread great new work out there. We are committed to paying our contributors for their incredible work. We have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for the printing costs and compensation. If you are interested and able, I am asking if you would be willing to support this new endeavor. Or if you can spread the word with your networks. Or both!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1943130585/the-antelope

Thanks for everything! We can't wait to share the Antelope Magazine with you all.

More March Updates

Still going strong on the book! In the meantime,  there are lots of great events this month for artists!

Shanta Nurullah will be performing at the Old Town School of Folk Music for her album release Sitarsys on March 26th at 3pm. More information: http://www.oldtownschool.org/concerts/2017/03-26-2017-shanta-nurullahs-sitarsys-album-release-3pm/

At the Chicago Cultural Center right now, there is the great exhibition "50 by 50 Invitational / The Subject is Chicago: People, Places, Possibilities" with each ward of Chicago's fifty wards is represented by a different artists. Iwona Biedermann's incredible photography is representing ward 1. Check it out before it closes on April 9th: https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/50_50.html

On March 17th, Jamie O'Reilly will be putting on a St. Patrick's day concert at Wishbone North, 3300 N Lincoln. For more information, http://www.jamieoreilly.com/production/dates/

That's just a few amazing events in the month of March!

March Updates

It's been a few weeks since I've last posted. I'm still working on reviewing the transcripts as I get them and editing them down for the book. I'm in a pattern of reviewing a transcript then editing it down, reviewing a transcript, etc. It's a really thrilling process of taking each interview through each step!

I recently heard about a fundraiser/art show that deals with issues close to my heart: Nasty Woman Art Chicago on May 5th. It's a sister show to the one held in NY several months ago. All proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood. Submissions are open if you are interested in submitting work. Read more here: https://www.nastywomenartchicago.org/

In Artist News, Edra Soto currently has her show "GRAFT" at Sector 2337 on 2337 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, until April 2nd. Check it out!

Week 5

This week for 52 Films by Women, I watched Gayle Kirschbaum's A Dog's Life, a documentary about her relationship with her dog. It's an interesting documentary...Not quite what I expected after spending a weekend learning how to dogsled. (So many puppies). The basic premise of the documentary is that she is off to find a husband for herself and the dog. She does take us to some interesting places including a fancy dog spa that includes a pool. I can only imagine how my dog would react if we put hiim next to the water. There was also a pretty amusing scene when Gayle K. has a casting call for doubles for her Shih Tzu. Amazing to know that there are crazy dog owner divas out there.

The doc really finds it's heart towards the end. During the filming of the documentary, 911 happens and Gayle realizes the potential healing power of the dog. Chelsea becomes certified and they go to hospice and provide much needed comfort. That part of the film really moved me.

That's all for now!

Week 4

This week for the 52 Films by Women challenge, I had the immense pleasure of watching Never Sorry about Chinese artist/activist Ai Wei Wei directed by Alison Klayman. I have been interested in Ai Wei Wei but knew very little about him. The documentary details his work around 2009-2010. He talks about his meaningful works that were in direct contrast with government policy, his efforts to get justice for being hit by police, etc. It was a reminder that people must speak truth to power. There's an amazing story about how Ai Wei Wei's new studio is torn down by the government. He decided to hold a party for it, where people would come and eat crabs, a political act. He's detained but people show up anyway to celebrate. They don't have his celebrity but they do it anyway. 

This quotation really resonates with me right now: 

Journalist: Do you ever examine yourself to see why are you so fearless compared to other people?

Ai Wei Wei: I am so fearful. That’s not fearless. I’m more fearful than other people. I act more brave because I know the danger is really there. If you don’t act, the danger becomes stronger.

So check it out! It's available streaming on Netflix. 

52 Films Update

Greetings all!

Last week I decided to take the 52 Films by Women pledge where I aim to see a film directed (or written) by a woman every week. In the spirit of this oral history project, I'm going to talk about the films I've seen in brief.

1. What Happened, Nina Simone? by LIz Garbus is a documentary about Nina Simone. I've been a fan of hers for years (Sinnerman is one my favorite songs) but I didn't know about her life. Fascinating life of this amazing, troubled singer.

2. Hidden Figures is based on a book by Margot Lee Shetterly about African American women who were the computers for the NASA space program. While the book is nonfiction and the movie is fictional, it's a really powerful movie about these intelligent women who made the American space program happen during segregation. It shows the injustices that these women faced to do their work. A great inspiring movie.

3. 13TH by Ava DuVernay is a documentary about the mass incarceration industrial complex and race. A very sobering film about how the system is another iteration of Jim Crow and slavery. A must see. This film does not pull punches so be prepared for some graphic content.

I'll keep posting about the films I see throughout the year.

Other news:

Not Just Another Pretty Face is on view at the Hyde Park Art Center until February 8th. Maria Gaspar and Joyce Owens, both incredible artists who participated in the project, have work on display. It's worth checking out.

Find out more here: http://www.hydeparkart.org/exhibitions/emnot-just-another-pretty-faceem--3

Here's a Chicago Tribune article about it: http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-pretty-face-hyde-park-art-center-ent-0112-20170111-column.html

Don't forget to check out Artists Against Hate: Inauguration Protest Show this Friday at Uptown Underground led by the amazing Dawn Xiana Moon. See amazing performers and win prizes. All proceeds will be donated to ACLU. Check out more info here: http://artistsagainsthate.org/

Upcoming Events

Some exciting events by oral history participants:

Brittney Leeanne Williams has a piece in a group show by curator Janice Bond called Abandoned Margins" at Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, MI on January 27, 2017. She has also been selected for the year long  HATCH Projects Residency. In February, she will have a solo show at the Dittmer Gallery at NOrthwestern from February 16 to March 28th.

For more information: http://www.brittneyleeannewilliams.com/

Dawn Xiana Moon is hosting "Artists Against Hate: INaugural Protest Show" at Uptown Underground on January 20th at 7:30. Performers from all over Chicago will participate. All proceeds will donated to the ACLU. Check out more: https://www.facebook.com/events/1823981807843558/#

That's all for now!

Happy 2017!

Happy 2017!

Just a check in to let you all know that I'm continuing to work on transcribing and editing of interviews for the book. It's a fun process to review all the amazing interviews I've done in the last year and a half. This year will be spent digging into all 70 interviews to create the final book. I'll continue to share some wonderful moments as we go along.

I also encourage all of you to consider making a resolution to see work by women. Women Arts has a challenge for you to see 52 movies by women or 52 plays by women. Find out more here: http://www.womenarts.org/2017/01/02/make-a-resolution-to-see-work-by-women-this-year/

That's all for now!

Progress

It's been a rough few weeks. Things didn't end up the way I was hoping political-wise. However, as a result of the election, I feel a stronger sense of urgency to work on this book and get these amazing interviews out in the world. These stories need to be told loudly and widely. 

I have some good news!  I've just completed 70 interviews. In November, I talked with Gladys Nilsson of the Hairy Who and with photomancer Danielle Tanimura. What amazing women! What fantastic interviews! I'm so lucky to have gotten to talk to both of them.

The interview portion of the project is now done. Yes, done. I know I've said this before but this is it. Now I focus on the transcribing and editing of the 70 interviews. I've made progress; I've got 7 interviews edited and various transcripts out and about. It's exhilarating to see this book take shape. It's alive! 

That's all for now!

Upcoming Events

A few wonderful things going on in Chicago in the next few weeks.

Raks Geek, founded by  Dawn Xiana Moon, has a show this Friday at 8pm at the Uptown Underground. The theme is "Monsters + Marvels." Their website notes about the show: 

"Join bellydancing Wookiees, firespinning superheroes, and hooping Borg for an unforgettable night of nerdiness and dancing! Raks Geek presents a brand-new show inspired by the X-Men, Star Wars, Silent Hill, Star Trek, Avengers, and more. Join in the geekery as we light things on fire!" For more information: http://raksgeek.com/#upcoming

Visual artist and make up artist Zsófia Ötvös is having a show at the Elephant Room Gallery on Sunday at 3pm. She is going "to introduce the Irma May series as never before..." 

Check out more information at https://www.facebook.com/events/980284312082390/

Edra Soto's piece "GRAFT" is on display at the Arts Club of Chicago as part of the Centennial Open House. For more information, check out: http://www.artsclubchicago.org/the-arts-club-of-chicago-at-100-open-house/

That's all for now!

Conversation with Ariele Ebacher

As I work on editing the interviews for the eventual book, I'm going to continue to share some short snippets from interviews with you all. Like a trailer or an appetizer. But much more substantive!

Back in the fall of 2014, I talked with Ariele Ebacher, who is the best wire walker/wire dancer I've ever seen. I asked her what she felt about wire walking and her philosophy of it. 

She told me: "When I came to the circus, I was a dancer and I was feeling a bit frustrated with the modern dance world because it seemed quite insular. I felt that I was becoming very disconnected from the general public. So at that time, right at the end of my time in college, where I was studying dance and also some other performing arts, doing a primarily design your own major, I found circus and was taken by it. Not just as a performative experience, although that was instantly captivating, but particularly because of the joy, the connection, and the community feeling that was so palpable to me just sitting in the audience. My first experience with circus was in a tent, a small tent. People have written about it and studied it; people who are more versed in the actual philosophies behind sitting in a circle around the ring and watching a performance. You aren’t only just watching what you see in the ring, but you are also watching your fellow audience members watch it. So there becomes this almost a tribal connection that’s happening between the audience and the performance."

You'll have to read the rest of the interview to find out more!

That's all for now!

 

Updates

It's been a few weeks since I've last posted. The Great Editing has begun! Woohoo! I'm working on getting all the interviews transcribed and edited for the book. 

Other exciting news:

Edra Soto was featured on the cover of Newcity. Amazing work by an amazing lady: http://art.newcity.com/2016/01/10/in-profile-edra-soto/

Marnie Galloway will be publishing two books Particle/Wave, and Burrow in the fall. You can preorder them now: http://marniegalloway.com/store

That's all for now!