Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Meanest Girl I Know

I recently encountered two articles on silencing the critical voice in your head. One was from Discovery Girls, a magazine by and for tween girls and the other from Oprah, for the grownup ones. Encountering two virtually identical articles in the same day meant for two different age groups gave me pause. Was it serendipity or a powerful reminder from the universe meant for me to hear? Both articles say: Maybe you have this image in your head of the way you want to be. Confident. Friendly. You also hear a voice, the one who insidiously insists you are untalented. Bad at everything. Just look at what everyone else is doing. How can you possibly compare?

What girl or woman can’t relate? There is a constant barrage of messages from outside ourselves that tell us we are falling short. It’s such old news. But why is it so hard to ignore it even when we have saavy BS detectors? I think part of the problem is that authentic stories are not always front and center, or even very valued. So much of what is geared toward women and girls in magazines and other literature is focused on how I can improve—especially making more money or spending time on my looks. Prescriptive stuff.

I have wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager and the whole time I have worked on my craft I have devoted myself to writing about the life of girls and women that goes beyond that. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to find something like Discovery Girls and read stories written by fabulous everyday girls supporting each other through friendship and mutual interest.

I can’t remember when the meanest girl I know took up residence in my own head. It seems like she’s always been there. But the more I thought about it, the more it became one of those no-duh moments. Getting that mean girls out of my head is what gives my writing purpose and gets me going day after day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chris Farrar and Katie Heymer

It was really cool to meet Chris Farrar and Katie Heymer, the talent behind the Fashion for RAINN photo exhibit launched to raise awareness of sexual violence issues this month. (Chris is on the left, me in the middle, and Katie on the right in the photo.) RAINN is the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network and is an incredible organization dedicated to helping survivors in communities all around the country. Fashion for RAINN got its start in New York photographing celebrities speaking out about about rape, and this year made plans to do more installations around the country. Chris shot the photos for the installation and Katie produced the shoot. We got to hang out together at the exhibit as we talked to people about how they felt about the photos. What a remarkable pair of dedicated artists! They are energetic, warm, and very dedicated.

Both of them have recently moved to the Twin Cities after graduating from the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA. As they've looked for ways to introduce themselves to the area, they decided to showcase their talent through their commitment for social change. "We really wanted to raise awareness for RAINN," said Chris, "It was a great project for us to do." It also means alot to him personally because a number of women close to him in his life have experienced sexual violence. "I've know what it feels like to have someone close to you get hurt," he said. Gathering the facts for the photos made him feel like there's still so much more to do to raise awareness. "It's a silent issue, nobody likes to talk about it, even when it's in the news all the time. It's so much a part of everyone's life."

Katie produced the photo shoot, which was a HUGE job! She organized everything: lining up models, finding hair and makeup people, procuring the clothing, and scheduling and locating the shoot. She did a casting call for models, got stores to donate outfits, and the hair and makeup crew gave their time and talents over the course of three days to make it all happen. The end result is a beautifully presented and powerful compilation of photos. Katie said, "I've personally known alot of people who are affected by this issue. I wanted to attract people to thinking about it through beautiful pictures, to get educated about a hard situation." Chris and Katie's efforts on behalf of RAINN and survivors everywhere is hugely impressive.

To view all the photos on line, go to and click on "Fashion for RAINN." They're awesome!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In Memorium Nancy Spero (1926-2009) Visual Artist

I learned from Art21 that Nancy Spero passed away on Sunday, October 18, 2009. I’d first encountered her work when I was an associate editor at Hurricane Alice. We were always so thrilled and grateful that an artist of her reputation contributed to the excellence of our journal. The vision of her work was nothing less than a rigorous questioning of society with an astute artistic execution. Her work virtually danced through the journal’s pages, infusing them with expansiveness that always complemented the content.

One of her works is installed on the ceiling of the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago. When I got the opportunity to see it a few years ago, I felt like I was coming home.

This is a description of her work and a video of Nancy Spero from Art21’s website:

“A pioneer of feminist art, Spero’s work is an unapologetic statement against the pervasive abuse of power, Western privilege, and male dominance. Her imagery and subject matter were inspired by current and historical events such as the torture of women in Nicaragua, the extermination of Jews in the Holocaust, and the atrocities of the Vietnam War. We had the privilege of interviewing her and documenting her practice in the Season Four episode, Protest. Though we mourn the loss of this great artist, we also celebrate her legacy and fearless contribution to art, politics, and antiwar activism."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fashion for RAINN Event

As I begin life as a blogger, I'm pleased that my first post will be about the Fashion for RAINN event that will be held at Southdale Center, Friday Oct. 23-25, 2009. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of sexual assault and its impact. Photographer Chris Farrar and producer Katie Heymeyer are presenting an exhibit of photos with models holding cards with statistics about sexual assault. The 15 photograph spread features fashion and talent from the local area of Minneapolis. The hope is that the exhibit will spur awareness as well as donations to RAINN, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. I will be there Friday from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. to help RAINN with this effort.

Both Chris Farrar and I are also making our debut appearances on behalf of RAINN, and when we spoke on the phone about it we were both so excited. It's great to be involved with this fantastic organization, but also to be able to do something locally that raises awareness in a very powerful medium. I am so thrilled to be taking a small part in this project. We hope to see you there. If you are not able to stop by, go to Chris' website, and click on "Fashion for RAINN" to see the whole slide show of photos.