Categories
Allied Arts & Media

Stuff Your Stockings With Feminist Joy

 

Photo: Champagne Thompson

Most practices of the Christmas season contradict my feminist values, the gendered narratives of Christianity conflated into the season of “giving,” with women carrying the burden of holiday shopping, cooking, and social coordination. Then there’s the “give and get”—giving a charitable donation in time to get a charitable tax receipt by year end.

For me, holiday giving and celebrating should not be powered by a capitalistic consumer agenda but by love, thoughtfulness, kindness. During the holiday season, winter solstice in particular, I focus on hope and gratitude for female* energies rather than the pinging of POS machines in shopping malls driving us into debt. Do our loved ones really want that? I don’t think so.

This year I endeavoured to find a way to engage with the festivities, in ways that make my heart happy. I visited three events featuring feminist makers and changemakers: the Made by Feminists Market at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel; Ottawa’s Feminist Fair; and the Indigenous & Ingenious Show and Sale in Toronto. You can check out their crafty arts online, as I am sure they will inspire you to new ethical shopping heights, as they did me.

Here are some of my feminist faves that are sleighin’ it!

 SaSa Naturals, Toronto

This powerhouse family team walks the feminist talk! Sisters Sarai (22), Jahdiel (25), Kristine (27), and their mom, Carolyn, run SaSa Naturals, an ethical, all-natural approach to self-care that emphasizes the power of women’s bodies. The co-founders are incredibly knowledgeable about each product and ingredient as well as traditional hygiene and wellbeing practices of women around the globe. They source goods directly from female-run shea nut farms in Ghana and even visit regularly to ensure female farmers are being treated equitably and that plant-based products are produced sustainably and free from chemicals. Products include all-natural deodorant alternatives, delectable soaps, bath bombs, lip chap and Yoni steam kits (unlike Amazon’s selections, these vaginal cleansing kits use herbs that honour the sacredness of womanhood). By using traditional medicinal practices rather than chemicals, the SaSa team is building a sassy brand that reminds women that our natural selves are our true selves. Check out their Instagram page to place orders that can be shipped to both Canada and the United States.

 Radical Roots

Kristen Campbell, an ecological restoration maven, founded her company almost two years ago as a way to make beautiful change in the era of climate crisis. She handmakes seed bombs—ethically sourced native plant species balled up in clay—that you can chuck at any barren patch during your morning walk or your own garden for that matter. Add rain, and flowers spring up. Bees and butterflies will love you, as native habitat springs from these flower bombs. Beautifying the world has never felt so therapeutic as hucking an enviro-friendly bomb of life to Mother Nature! An excellent gift for the outdoorsy, flower-loving, tree-hugging types in your life or for anyone who just wants to drop an f-bomb—and feel great about it.

 Read My Flowers

 

Helena Verdier discovered a love for transformative upcycling while studying at Carleton University. Now 26, she has made a business of repurposing some of our favourite literature into works of visual and wearable art. She creates paper flower crowns, centrepieces, and floral decor, showcasing and selling her flower-power pieces on her Instagram page. Seeing Verdier’s artistry highlighted on the Feminist Twin’s page enticed me to make the trek to their Feminist Fair in Ottawa for their sixth annual event where I discovered plenty more feminist gift-giving ideas.

 Hand Stitched by Claire

Remember those framed embroidery pieces hanging in grandma’s house, greeting you with cheesy, sentimental sayings, like “Home is where the heart is” and all that? Well, Claire DePoe-Collins’s embroidery art is not that. The 30-year-old stitches radical, feminist ideas into her hoops such as “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” and “Ovaries before brovaries” as well as slogans for the woke such as “If it is inaccessible to the poor it’s neither radical nor revolutionary” and “Hang on lemme overthink this.” She also draws on racialized voices for inspiration. From Serena Williams: “The day I stop fighting for equality…will be the day I’m in my grave.” Such soulful, gut-punching, and often hilarious affirmations gave me the most painful belly laugh—and sure to deliver the same kick to your pals. DePoe-Collins ships her work straight to your door—and accepts custom orders should you know exactly what will tickle a friend’s feminist fancy.

 Chief Lady Bird

At Indigenous & Ingenious, I visited Chief Lady Bird, an Anishinaabekwe artist who resists colonization through her mixed media prints, brilliant murals, skateboard decks and youth-focused projects that focus on Indigenous resilience, sex and body positivity, as well as calling attention to the importance of Indigenous women in our communities. She recently illustrated Nibi’s Water Song, a brilliant children’s book about Nibi’s quest to find clean water in her community, highlighting the need to listen to Indigenous voices and protect our planet for future generations. You can order Chief Lady Bird’s art on her Instagram page. She takes commissions for custom pieces too.


But the greatest
gift I took away from my foray into these feminist fairs? The knowledge that every dollar we spend casts a ballot for the world we want to inhabit. One maker told me that the money she made at the event will help pay her rent this month. When we buy from our brilliant sisters, we are also giving a gift of survival and support in the fight to dismantle the patriarchy. Now, I can deck the halls with that!


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This article was made possible thanks to the generosity of Startup Toronto!


Related Reading

https://www.liisbeth.com/2016/11/22/merry-little-inclusive-holiday-season/

Categories
Allied Arts & Media Feminist Practices

The Art of Change

Feminist Art Conference 2014, OCAD University, Toronto

The process for art-making can boil down to something like this: Make art, get feedback, make art better. Sounds easy, right? It wasn’t for Ilene Sova. In 2012, the Toronto artist-activist was painting portraits of women who had disappeared in Ontario for her Missing Women Project. She wanted to talk about the hard issues she was tackling in her art—patriarchy, misogyny, systemic racism, violence against women—but there wasn’t a group of fellow feminist artists to turn to, at least not a formally organized one.

Sova put out a call for submissions and volunteers and got a rush of responses, including from people in Kenya and Colombia. On International Women’s Day in March 2013, she launched the first Feminist Art Conference (FAC), a multidisciplinary event that brought together artists, activists, and academics of different gender identities, ages, nationalities, and feminisms so they could show their work and use it to spark discussions around important feminist issues.

The conference sold out in two days, attracting 120 participating artists and 150 attendees. “Clearly what I had been missing in my own social practice was something that others in our creative communities were also yearning for,” says Sova. FAC’s subsequent annual conferences have been equally as successful, especially the 2017 event that happened the day of the Women’s March.

‘Ashaba’; No human can look at her directly by Karen White explores unseen oppression. By covering her face while staring straight at the viewer, the artist makes us feel both complicit and engaged in the exploration of colonialism and imperialism.

 Art That Moves

Feminists have been long fed up with the fact that women’s art continues to be undervalued, underrepresented, and often completely ignored. The feminist activist group Guerrilla Girls have been calling out the gender and racial inequality in the arts since 1985 when they picketed the Museum of Modern Art in New York for featuring only 13 women out of 169 artists.

That inequality persists today. Female visual artists earn just 65 percent of the annual income of their male peers, according to a 2018 report by the Ontario Arts Council. Since 2013, women have only accounted for 36 percent of solo exhibitions at Canadian galleries; it’s dramatically less for non-white women. Gender disparity also exists in the performing arts space, which FAC attempts to redress in their events.

FAC has heard all the reasons why feminist work is often shut out of commercial spaces and public institutions. It’s not mainstream or universal (i.e., not male). It’s too angry and personal (i.e., too female) to be good. No one (i.e., men) will buy it. FAC’s response? Carve out spaces to showcase intersectional work that might be deemed taboo elsewhere, for instance, on topics such as rape culture, transphobia, racism, ableism, domestic violence, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, media representation, cultural appropriation, environmental degradation, and Islamophobia. Nothing is off limits. FAC featured a graphic novel about trauma and abuse, Girl in the Attic by Hyein Lee, which contains such difficult subject matter that FAC added its first-ever content warning.

Girl in the Attic by Hyein Lee explores themes of trauma and abuse by drawing the viewer into the narrative.

According to Sova, people attending FAC events say they are really touched because the art reflects current social issues that affect them. “This creates a very impactful experience for those viewing art or experiencing a performance,” says Sova.

After hosting four conferences, FAC changed its name to the Feminist Art Collective to reflect its expanding mission. It now hosts artist residencies on the Toronto Islands. And its next event—the Feminist Art Festival, March 5 to 7, 2020, at OCAD University—will include a reception, conference, performances, film screening, makers’ market, and a two-week exhibition featuring the work of visual artists.

The Art of the Action

Since day one, FAC has operated as a grassroots organization run entirely by volunteers. Currently, the core team consists of 30 people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

Carissa Ainslie, who took on the coordinator role after Ilene Sova became the Ada Slaight Chair of Contemporary Painting and Drawing at OCAD University, describes their current organizational structure as non-hierarchical. “We try to be intersectional in terms of who we’re including in the conversations that we’re having,” says Ainslie. “Ensuring that everyone has a voice at the table is really important regardless of what their experiences have been.”

FAC’s biggest challenge is finding the time and money to put on events, particularly without a physical office or paid staff. It didn’t help that the Ontario government slashed arts sector funding from $18.5 million to $6.5 million earlier this year but, before that, FAC did not have much success getting grants as their conferences are so unique they don’t “tick all the eligibility boxes.” Instead, they’re exploring other options such as sponsorships with companies that align with their values.

For now, FAC relies on in-kind donations for printing services, food and beverages for receptions, and space rentals (OCAD University is a signature partner and hosts the festivals as well as committee meetings). Ticket sales (with pay-what-you-can options) and their annual Made by Feminists market at the Gladstone Hotel also brings in funds.

Despite budget constraints, FAC continues to grow. Submissions for the 2020 festival were up to 187 from 130 in 2017, coming in from Australia, South America, Europe, United States, and Canada. Ainslie says the political landscape has changed since their last conference in 2017 with the #MeToo movement encouraging people to talk openly about sexual harassment and gender inequality.

A voting committee of 11 people (artists, curators, activists, community members and academics) will select the final artists to participate at the festival, through a selection process that considers social justice issues, intersectionality, the collective’s mission and, of course, the strength of the art itself rather than the artist’s professional record.

Not Missing, Not Murdered by Amanda Amour-Lynx features the shirt the artist wore the night she was sexually assaulted. Photo: Black Umbrella Photography, Rebecca Tisdelle-Macias

With FAC serving as a spring board, past participants have gone on to show or perform their work in other venues and countries, collaborated with artists they met at FAC events, and even started conferences (see Black Futures Now and M.I.X.E.D) as well as a literary magazine (Living Hyphen).

Says Ainslie: “The world is a bit ridiculous and I hope people can come together and have some good conversations. We try our best to support the artists the way we can. We can’t always do that with funds but we can by creating a space where artists can build their CV and present work that may not be welcome anywhere else. We just want the best for all the artists involved.”

The Feminist Art Festival runs from March 5 to 7, 2020 in Toronto. Get your tickets here


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This article was made possible thanks to the generosity of Startup Toronto.


Related Articles

https://www.liisbeth.com/2016/12/07/make-difference-2017-take-action/

https://www.liisbeth.com/2017/03/02/gender-innovation-entrepreneurship/

Categories
Allied Arts & Media Our Voices

Vision

My Vision
by Marni Levitt

Turn off your television
and have a listen:
I was born to realize this,
I have a mission.
Every time I open my eyes
I have a vision:
We get to make the decisions
of how we want
life to be.
The future is not
pre-conceived you see.
 

Categories
Allied Arts & Media

Canadian Illustrator Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant

Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-wonder-woman
Wonder Woman by Kate Beaton on harkavagrant.com

Kate Beaton makes comics about Mary Seacole, Marie Curie, Susan B Anthony, The Brontës, Canadians, superheros, fat ponies, and more. Beaton lampoons historical and literary figures across the board. Her lively drawings and sharp wit have us laughing our way through our midweek. She launched her website Hark! A Vagrant in 2007, which according to the Paris Review receives more than a million hits each month.

More about the illustrator, in her own words:

Kate Beaton was born in Nova Scotia, took a history degree in New Brunswick, paid it off in Alberta, worked in a museum in British Columbia, then came to Ontario for a while to draw pictures, then Halifax, and then New York, and then back to Toronto. Maybe the moon next time, who knows.

The latest Hark! A Vagrant collection, Step Aside Pops is available as a convenient paper bound package. For everyday fun make sure to follow Kate Beaton on Twitter.

 

Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-Suffragettes

Susan B. Antony may not approve.

Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-Brontes

Dude Watchin’ with the Brontes

Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-Mary-Seacole

“Florence Nightingale should can it!” Crimean War Nurse Mary Seacole FTW.

Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-Laura-Secord

Bummer History with Laura Secord

 

Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-Straw-Feminists

Check your closets for Straw Feminists!

Categories
Allied Arts & Media

Canadian Illustrator Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant

Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-wonder-woman
Wonder Woman by Kate Beaton on harkavagrant.com

Kate Beaton makes comics about Mary Seacole, Marie Curie, Susan B Anthony, The Brontës, Canadians, superheros, fat ponies, and more. Beaton lampoons historical and literary figures across the board. Her lively drawings and sharp wit have us laughing our way through our midweek. She launched her website Hark! A Vagrant in 2007, which according to the Paris Review receives more than a million hits each month.
More about the illustrator, in her own words:

Kate Beaton was born in Nova Scotia, took a history degree in New Brunswick, paid it off in Alberta, worked in a museum in British Columbia, then came to Ontario for a while to draw pictures, then Halifax, and then New York, and then back to Toronto. Maybe the moon next time, who knows.

The latest Hark! A Vagrant collection, Step Aside Pops is available as a convenient paper bound package. For everyday fun make sure to follow Kate Beaton on Twitter.
 
Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-Suffragettes

Susan B. Antony may not approve.

Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-Brontes

Dude Watchin’ with the Brontes

Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-Mary-Seacole

“Florence Nightingale should can it!” Crimean War Nurse Mary Seacole FTW.

Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-Laura-Secord

Bummer History with Laura Secord

 

Hark-A-Vagrant-Kate-Beaton-Straw-Feminists

Check your closets for Straw Feminists!

Categories
Allied Arts & Media

7 Stages of Entrepreneurship Guide By Kiki Schirr's

7 Stages of Entrepreneurship was originally posted on Medium and is our reason to smile this Wednesday!

Welcome to the messy, overwhelming, incredibly rewarding, coffee fueled world of Entrepreneurship. These doodles might look like simple doodles on post-its, but really they are mini jems of truth. Whether you are just starting out or are seasoned as an entrepreneur, we are sure you will appreciate the brutal honesty of what it takes to take your big idea from ideas on paper to a real, sustainable business model.
Kiki Schirr is the woman behind this work. She is the co-founder of fitness app Fittr and the illustrator of Tech Doodles.
1-A Guide to the 7 Stages of Entrepreneurship-Kiki Schirr
2-A Guide to the 7 Stages of Entrepreneurship-Kiki Schirr
3-A Guide to the 7 Stages of Entrepreneurship-Kiki Schirr
4-A Guide to the 7 Stages of Entrepreneurship-Kiki Schirr
5-A Guide to the 7 Stages of Entrepreneurship-Kiki Schirr
6-A Guide to the 7 Stages of Entrepreneurship-Kiki Schirr
7-A Guide to the 7 Stages of Entrepreneurship-Kiki Schirr
Like this? Follow Kiki Schirr for updates on her work.