The second annual Intersectional Wonder Womxn Art Show will bring an intersectional lens to the world of feminist art at Studio Two Three next month.
There’s a wonder woman in all of us, and the perfect way to realize and celebrate this is coming next month.
The second annual Intersectional Wonder Womxn Art Show Vol. 2: Truthsayer will celebrate women of all backgrounds through creative expression at Studio Two Three in Scott’s Addition on May 23. Powered by the energy of Richmond women of varied experiences, the art show will recognize inner strength and bring important voices to the table.
Co-chairs emeritus Sylvia Mallory and Kortenay Gardiner proudly passed the planning torch to Chelsea Higgs Wise and Ngiste Abebe this year, based on their dedication to deep conversations surrounding intersectional feminism.
“Chelsea and Ngiste were the perfect duo,” Mallory said. “Chelsea loves to go after and be very vocal. She is a force to reckon with. Ngiste works in politics and knows the inside of the system. And so, the two of them and these two kinds of voices are so imperative.”
Bringing voice and understanding to intersectional feminism is critical to the event.
“Intersectional feminism is the idea that understanding needs to prefix the word feminism,” Wise said. “Our traditional values of feminism are rooted in white, cis women. The idea of putting intersectional as a prefix is really opening up the idea that feminism is inclusive of race, gender, ability, intellectuality, and any part of our identity that can really uplift people as humans.”
Although Wise is not an artist herself, she and the other co-chairs of the event work to raise up artists in the community in order to redefine the narrative of feminism.
Through a variety of art pieces, participants last year interpreted intersectional feminism through tapestry paintings, sculptures, and handmade bracelets.
“Oftentimes a visual as storytelling can be just as important as the things you say,” Mallory said. “You get to step into somebody else’s shoes and how they’re expressing that narrative. I get chills just thinking about it.”
This year, intersectional feminism has been further defined to encapsulate truth surrounding the subject. With the theme of “Truthsayer,” participants are charged to share their truth and use the platform of the event to enlighten guests about things they may not be recognizing in within their own communities.
One of those things is human trafficking. Richmond is among the top 20 cities in the nation for human trafficking, Mallory said. Inspired by this and personal experience with the group, the co-chairs of the Intersectional Wonder Womxn Art Show selected Safe Harbor as the beneficiary for the event.
Safe Harbor provides services for survivors of human trafficking, sexual assault, and other domestic abuse. Survivors are offered counseling and housing, among other resources.
“I always say it can happen to any of us,” Gardiner said. “That’s why intersectional feminism made so much sense to me.”
With an underlying theme of superpower and inner strength, Mallory and Gardiner’s first event in April 2018 garnered over $5,500 for Safe Harbor, between sponsors, donations, and art purchases. Some survivors were able to attend the show, with one survivor showcasing their work.
“In the last year, I really dove into the idea of creative, artistic expression with women,” Wise said. “I say a lot of direct truths. That’s what these women were really hoping to do this year.”
As a guest last year, Wise noted the energy and celebratory nature that artists and guests alike brought to The Hof, where last year’s event was held. It was a space to be among other people, focus on individual artwork, and have conversation, she said. Gardiner echoed the energizing power of the discussions held last year.
Women across all spaces are invited to participate. Whether it means submitting art for the show, volunteering time, or attending as a guest, there are many ways to get involved. The success of the event last year was thanks to the diversity of artists, the volunteers who helped, and the fact that everyone was in it for Safe Harbor, Mallory said.
Those interested in volunteering for the event are invited to complete a survey to evaluate areas of expertise, amount of time one is able to volunteer, and intersectionality.
“Bring your skills to bear,” Gardiner said. “Bring them to us.”
These skills extend to artists who wish to participate as well. Artists may submit work through April 30 to be considered for the art show. Once submitted, co-chairs go through and process the intersectionality of the pieces to ensure that the artist or creators represent the values they’re looking for, Mallory said.
“It’s part of our job in that community to be sure that artists have that space to do that,” Wise said about amplifying artists as part of the intersectional feminist ecosystem. “Feminism isn’t just about raising a gender, it’s about raising humanity.”
Women such as Cheyenne Varner of Everyday Birth have already donated their talents to the cause. Varner, a doula who champions the idea of supporting all women in birth, created the promotional poster for the event.
The artwork illustrates the intersections of the truthsayer’s body through use of different skin tones to match different textures of the world, Mallory said.
“As soon as I reached out to her about doing this, she immediately wanted to make this happen,” Mallory said. “She really took our vision to life about being able to amplify women in this community.”
The show itself will come to life on Thursday, May 23 from 6 to 8:30 PM at Studio Two Three, located at 3300 W. Clay St in Scott’s Addition. The cost of admission is $10, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Safe Harbor. For more info, visit wonderwomenartshow.com.
Top photo: Gardiner, Mallory, Abebe, Wise