March 23rd-March 30th, 2021
(This is part of the Studio Assistants’ Blog-post series recounting projects we were working on last year and only now are writing them up.)
Written By Eleanor Stewart, Studio Assistant
At this point, the Women of Influence project was moving along fast. With the help of Sofié Ruderman (another studio assistant), Gabrielle, and the suggestions from our friends and family, we were able to compile a list of 300 women to potentially include in our project! However, we wanted to narrow our list down to 52 women so they could eventually be turned into embroidered portraits that would be printed into decks of informational playing cards.
It felt like it was time to get some external opinions on how to narrow this list down. Gabrielle and I planned a zoom event with her friends and colleagues to gather feedback on our list and suggestions on how to move forward. To prepare, I cut the list of 300 women down to 160, leaving out anyone who wasn’t active in the past 50 years and anyone who didn’t fit into our focus on visibility/invisibility. This focus was suggested by Gabrielle because of her project, The Invisibility Lab. We decided to define “Influential Women” as people who fight for making visible things and people that are invisible. This includes fighting for the rights of marginalized people, the environment, LGBT+ communities, people of color, and anything that is made invisible or discriminated against in our society. I then organized the list of 160 women into sections based on their occupation or form of contribution to the world, whether it be visual artist, activist, politician, musician, athlete, etc. I also highlighted the names of women that had been mentioned multiple times.
Then, I prepped a PowerPoint for the Women of Influence discussion group that we scheduled for April 1st. I came up with a list of questions that I wanted to ask the group and set up the PowerPoint to include the 160 person list, the categorized list, and the 25 person list of popular names. It was definitely a challenge to fit all the names on some of the slides and organize them. I also put together slides that explained the process for the project thus far and how we got the lists that we did. Gabrielle and I chatted a few times to prepare for what we were going to say during our introduction and description of the project.
The presentation went well and the discussion was awesome and extremely helpful! We got lots of constructive feedback. We had about ten participants and everyone had a lot to say about the project. People were constructively critical about the lists we created and we had an exciting conversation about who should be included in the project and why. People suggested that if we focus on trying to make the invisible visible, we shouldn’t really be focusing on primarily famous women. Most of the people on the consolidated 25-person list were celebrities. Given their fame, they were likely the first names many people thought of. We were asked by the working group to add more people who are not as visible or famous, but just as influential. People also suggested that we include more indigenous folks and people of different cultures who are grassroots activists but aren’t necessarily getting famous for it.
This was a turning point for the project. Our next challenge was figuring out how to move forward from here…
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