“Now Be Here”
By the time I arrived at 10:20 am there were already about 35 women out front, and I could see more arriving by car and on foot, until 5 minutes later when there were about 50 more. It was hot, but the air was also warm with the clamor of women greeting old friends, colleagues and introducing themselves to each other. I’m typically shy in crowds, but quickly saw an artist I knew, and then another and another. There were a few men sprinkled into the mix who floated around and slid off the giant bubble of feminine energy, but kept popping back in, only to be rolled over again. I felt fortunate to meet in person some of the artists whose work I admire and whose names I’d seen in gallery listings online and in print; putting a face to the name and to the energy.
As I looked around I was struck by the enormity of the compiled life experience of the women at the shoot, and how a school founded right then and there could draw on that experience for decades to come; it felt like a slow-burning fire with vast acres of fuel--a university of women artists. I also kept thinking about my time in grad school, and how many women I’d had as professors—a grand total of 2.
After the main shoot a group of artists of color gathered for a photo, and other artists assisted by taking photos for us with our respective phones. At the center of the photo was the lovely Betye Saar, standing near her daughters. One of us confessed to feeling anxiety as she wondered where her fellow artists of color were, and then being gratified when she realized that we were indeed represented.
I was due to meet a friend at the Hammer to catch the last day of “Made in L.A.” so was not able to attend the after party, but I left the shoot feeling protected by a fluid armor of goodwill and a distinctly feminine strength that is composed of endurance, and an enormous fusillade of talent and beauty.