Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending Brightest Young Things and the National Museum of Women in the Arts "Exclusively Inclusive" after hours event. This event was right up my ally as it was in my favorite museum in the metropolitan area, the subject matters at hand (feminism, duh) and the artists in attendance.
Today's comeback featured post highlights my favorite pieces from the new "She Who Tells A Story" exhibition presented by women photographers from the Iran and Arab World. It also shouts out a few of the brands I got to encounter in the ACreativeDC #GirlPower room throughout the night.
she who tells a story
This exhibition is definitely worth a second and third visit. There is so much to take in for each part and piece. Each work weaves collectively into the next and successfully represents the feminine perspective to art. It gave me a deeper meaning to how life looked and felt in the midst of undying war, even though I will never fully understand it. The six parts that spoke to me the most that night I have highlighted below.
"NEGATIVE INCURCIONS," RULA HALAWANI
These works caught my eye first because even though you knew what was going on within the photos, you couldn't really see colors or what time of day they were taken in. All you saw was the life and destruction of war. The photograph I stopped on in this part is pictured below. The negatives give a night vision effect, something well known in the military world. The people laying on the ground, covering their heads in protection shows a vulnerability I hope to never experience in my home country.
"TODAY'S LIFE AND WAR," GOHAR DASHTI
Even though the photographs in this section of the exhibit were staged, they conveyed the dichotomy between ordinary life and symbols of war. Certain acts like celebrating a wedding, eating dinner or watching TV are interrupted by tanks, sacks of supplies and the stoic faces of the subjects. When you visit this section of the exhibit, notice the hints of red and pink that represent the glimmers of hope during war.
"BULLETS REVISITED," LALLA ASSIA ESSAYDI
This large piece of three separate photos immediately captured my eye when I walked into or pass its room. It is in the "Deconstructing Orientalism" section which sought to address the romanticized idea of the Middle East and conquer this male-dominated fantasy. In this work, the woman's pose is in a reclining position that reminds me of Manet's Olympia and many other art pieces. Yet this figure is fully clothed and covered with elaborate decorative patterns composed of silver and golden bullet casings.
Even though the work's description says these patterns are symbolic of violence and the growing restrictions of women in a new post-revolutionary era, I also see them as addressing the female body as a battlefield. Many other pieces in this exhibit also convey this message.
"QAJAR," SHADI GHADIRIAN
This was by far one of the funnest pieces to look at out of the whole exhibit, especially after understanding the meaning behind it. The event's cover photo comes from these vintage looking pieces. These young girls are seen holding a Pepsi can, plants, stereos and other objects as an act of rebellion. These objects are "forbidden" in Iran when these photographs were made. One image shows a young girl with the Hamshahri Iranian Persian-language newspaper, a banned publication that the photographer once worked for. The subject of this picture and the other pictures look out at the camera with a "try me" attitude, not caring one bit that they are breaking the rules.
"A GIRL IN HER ROOM," RANIA MATAR
I connected with these pieces the most out of all the others in the exhibition. Before I gained 24 line sisters, I refueled my energy and sanity in my room by myself. The placement of the bodies and objects in the images are similar to what I do and have in my own room. Items in my room such as posters of idols and DVD's tell a lot about me. Laying on my bed in silence also provides a type of therapy that is needed, a step back from life. These images show a development of identity and connects the experience of coming of age to others outside the Arab and Middle Eastern culture.
"LISTEN," NEWSHA TAVAKOLIAN
These images of professional Iranian singers communicates so much feeling and emotion even though all of their eyes are closed. Iranian women were forbidden by the government to record music or perform. The backdrop and placement of the subjects in the frames makes it look like pre-Revolutionary Iranian television, which would be an act of rebellion in itself. These women are fearless, a theme that rings through the entire exhibition.
#girlpower EXTRAVAGANZA ROOM
First and foremost I would love to say that I am so happy this event and this entire #GirlPower room either gave black female artists a platform or showcased female artists that focused on issues in the black community. Witnessing these women at work and getting to know their brands made me extremely proud to call myself black and woman.
I know many in the black community feel as if there is a "crab-in-the-barrell" mentality infecting our relationships with one another, but Friday night made me disagree. These women were so humble, real and confident in their work, and without further ado I'd like to introduce them below.
This brand's goal is to increase the representation of blackness in fashion from a very abstract approach. "What I basically seek to do is just amplify our image in a different light and give black people more of a chance in the fashion world." She likes to do things out of the box with a great example being the pocket squares that were in high demand the night of the event. She encourages her customers to wear them on their clothes and in their hair in unconventional ways.
This is a lifestyle brand that wants to incorporate every queen. "We don't mind searching under every rock, or looking under every crevice, we want to find that magic within you." After launching last week, their brand is already so established. throughout the night she helped women spice up their style by teaching them how to head wrap. She encourages her clients to reach out to her for group head wrapping classes.
This group creates a space for teen girls and young women to come together, collaborate, share and empower one another. Their monthly meet-ups aim to create a fun and positive environment through activities, seminars, workshops and guest speakers. When asked about how they felt about the event, they responded, "It's very incredible to have hardworking and passionate women in one room, it's important." I highly recommend you check out their meet-ups even though I missed the pleasure of attending my first one last Sunday. I do plan on going to the next!
This visual artist does everything from visuals to paintings. Her brand is all about being yourself, staying an individual while working with other people. When asked about the event she enthused, "So many amazing women in here, so much amazing feedback, I honestly think this is the best atmosphere to have your work in." Her bold aesthetic is so different from what I have seen on the DMV art scene I had to take the print featured below.
Merima is an artist in the DMV that likes to focus on socio-political culture in the metropolitan area. She is known to mix local slang and terminology that the youth uses into her works to further connect her audience to the awareness within her art. She grew up around politics and learned about political systems through her immigrant parents. Putting those two things inside of her work, she sees herself at the forefront of advancing the community’s perception on local problems, especially gentrification. “I am definitely being effected by gentrification when it comes to my work and my peers. It’s getting very scarce for people who can’t afford the $4,000 venues for two hours."
Merima had two dog paintings she recently created as the backdrop for her table. She also had ViewMasters on the table where you could click through her many other works. “It was definitely really cool seeing an older and younger demographic putting their phones down and looking through my work.”
All in all I had a wonderful time and plan to follow up with the brands and artwork I saw that night. For my full snapchat story for the night, click on the video below!