Keith Haring is a pop artist best known for his cartoon-like figure drawings. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Haring discovered a love for art, particularly drawing, at a young age. While in art school, Haring decided to dedicate his life to creating public art. Much of his art carried social messages and many of his pieces were donated to charities. In 1988, Haring was diagnosed with AIDS. He then used his art to share his story and spread awareness of the disease. The Keith Haring Foundation was established in 1989. All funds raised by this foundation are donated to children affected by HIV and AIDS. Unfortunately, Haring passed away in February of 1990 due to AIDS related complications. The legacy he created through his foundation and his artwork continues to be recognized and honored. If you would like to learn more about Keith Haring’s life, click here.
Our most recent workshop took place on September 28 at Lux Art Institute. We toured the gallary of Lia Halloran and were able to discuss her art work with her. We then created projects based on Lia's pieces and drew inspiratioin from her work. Below are some pictures of the event, thank you so much to everyone who came out and a huge shoutout to Lia. If you are interested in Lia's work you can visit her website here, or check out our last blog post. Also check out her work at Lux's gallery, which is up until November 3.
What message do you want to send through your art or what do you want people to take away from your art when they see it?
Do you have any stories about female scientists that you found when you were researching for this project that you thought were interesting and you wanted to share?
"Oh my gosh, there are so many fantastic stories. This series is all based on this group of women in the late 1800’s. And essentially, at that time, women are graduating for the very first time out of women's colleges. And so there's all of these fantastic thinkers that are looking to work and be useful. The Harvard Observatory director was able to take advantage of that and put these women into positions where they were studying the glass plates. (Glass plates were used to print pictures of stars and the sky).
The way that early astronomers worked was that they were taking pictures of the sky, but they never developed them (the glass plates) into the positive. They just worked with the negatives. And they would use these film loops and they would then take ink pens and they would write directly on the glass plate. They’re measuring like the heat of stars, the size of stars, the chemical content of stars. And how could they do that? They’re using this glass plate.
So back to your original questions, what are the stories of the women? I mean I would say that for me, there are so many stories in history that overlook just one person, I think the most tremendous aspect of this story is that it was actually a whole group of women, who were so often singled out, but it’s actually this group that’s doing all of this work. Sometimes they’re making major discoveries that are really sexy, like "Oh my gosh I discovered this galaxy that no one’s ever seen!" One of them actually figured out how to measure the distance of the universe, and if you think about it and you were to look at the stars here, a big star might look really really dim cause it’s very far away, or a bright star might look dim cause it’s far away, and a dim star might look bright because it’s close to you. This person actually figured out, Henrietta Swan Levitt, how to measure the distance of the universe. You guys have probably heard of the Hubble Space Telescope? Edwin Hubble receive the Nobel Prize, because he figured out that, using what she did, the universe was expanding. And they contacted her to nominate her for a Nobel Prize, but she had died four years before and they didn’t even know it. So there’s a lot of stories like that where these women were doing really impactful work, but they weren’t necessarily singled out as being the inventor of it or having ownership of that discovery.
We've heard about how important art and science are to you, and if you were have to pursued science, what would you miss about art?
You know, I never wanted to pursue science. Here’s the thing, in science I can be inventive, and it’s not about being right or wrong, I can explore something, and I have an interpretation of something, and it’s totally fine for me as an artist to interpret science. If i were to interpret science as a scientist, I would be a very bad scientist. One of my favorite quotes Neil DeGrasse Tyson said was, “The great this about science is that it’s always true even if you believe in it or not.” So I was not interested in being a scientist per say, I’m interested in kind of the humanity aspect of how science can be translated. I walk that line between art and science and I always want to land on the art side of the fence. And it gives me freedom to question it and challenge it, cause I can be outside.
So in your art you tend to follow your interest when you make art and you’ll dive into a new medium if you think that is what your projects calls for, so if you could choose any method or medium to create art with what would you want to try?
That even my studio practice is about me exploring something new. I’m always looking for what would be the weirdest way to make something and then I was thinking, God, even this video project is an extension of “Dark Skate” (Dark Skate are long exposure photographs in which Lia attached lights to her body and skated in urban environments). In “Dark Skate” I’m exploring the urban environment on a skateboard, here I’m exploring the urban environment in an airplane. It’s also a self portrait; It’s always me flying, and it’s always me skating in all of the photos. If it’s an 11-foot concrete wall, that’s me skating in the pitch dark and it’s not about me creating an image, its about that it’s me.
What’s a common theme you’ve notice throughout all your work?
I think the main thing is that they all challenge your understanding of your perception. SO I would say when you look at a piece of mine you might not know what it is or how it was made, but it interests you. So you look at them and you say, “This is a photograph, I know what a photograph looks like.” But then you look at it more carefully and it’s imperfect. From across the room, It could be pictures of the sky or it could be microbiology, but you are not totally sure. And the same thing with “Dark Skate,” you can read about what I’m doing, but when you look at that photograph, you would not immediately think that it’s a skateboarder. And the same thing with the flight video I’m working on, There’s something that I’m doing that’s very odd about it that’s not in your expectation. Technically, I aim to do that, to confuse the viewer in a way in a way that engages them. And in terms of my subject matter, I think that all of my work challenged science and also has a personal aspect to it. So it’s very personal, so it’s not just any galaxy, it’s a galaxy that was based on the study of this one woman. Dark Skate is not just about creating a light painting in an urban environment, it’s important that it’s me skating. I did a big series about the Periodic Table of Elements, and they’re infused with 33 queer women in LA, it’s a whole catalog of my friends and the chemical environment around me. You could look at it and say “Oh, that’s the periodic table of elements,” cause you know what it looks like, but for me it's representing my community, that I don’t think has been represented. So technically one, it challenged your perception, and conceptually it might have a universal reach. I don't think anyone would come to my gallery and say “I don’t know what these are.” You would say “that's a comet, I’ve looked at the night sky, I’ve seen that,” but then the “behind the story” is something that’s very specific and intimate, and in a lot of ways it uncovers things that have been hidden. It’s always about singing an unsung song.
What was it like for you, getting into skating when there were almost no female skaters?
Skateboarding culture is so huge, especially now. Now, the culture of skateboarding has a lot of money behind it, it’s totally accepted, we’ll see it in the Olympics soon. But when I was growing up, it was like you were doing drugs, spray painting things, up to no good, and on top of that I didn’t meet a female skateboarder who could actually really skate until I was in my 20's. It was always very lonely. Maybe not lonely, but more solitary. And that was the other part of Dark Skate that I wanted to represent, that skating is a very solitary thing. I was not invited into the culture of skateboarding, I was always the odd person out. In reflection I was, my friends who were my friends in high school wouldn't want to go to a skate park, and then when I went to the skate park, the guys were nice to me but they weren’t really my friends. I had a half-pipe in my backyard and I would just skate there by myself a lot. When people talk about how they grew up skateboarding, that means something to boys and men in a totally different way, versus me, where I had this hobby where I did not know anyone else who did it. It’s kind of an off thing but I was in Thrasher Magazine when I was 15, and it was so cool, but my actual friends had never heard of Thrasher, I couldn’t win either way. But I think if you are the odd person out, you start thinking of things in a different way and that is my background as a queer person, a skater, I’m always looking at things from the fringes and there’s a power in that. When I’m talking about the skateboarding It’s not even a complaint like “oh my god, I was bullied” or anything like that, there’s just something you see from the margins that you don’t see if you’re in the mainstream. And the mainstream was something that was not accessible for me at the time so now I’m excited to see the X-Games including women, and hopefully they’ll get their act together and actually pay them, so that your peers could go on to say “I’m going to be a professional skateboarder,” and actually make a living doing that, the same way that people in this area (San Diego) do with surfing.
Fast fashion is a name used to describe clothing brands and retailers who aim to move through mainstream fashion trends quickly. Although this may sound ideal, the environment and the workers suffer greatly because of it. Many popular stores, including Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, H&M, Zara, and Brandy Melville, rely on unethical labor practices to produce their goods. These unethical labor practices comprise mainly of sweatshops in developing countries, where some of their workers are paid as little as $3 everyday and where children as young as 5 years old are forced to work. These factories also contribute an increasing amount of toxic waste into water and air supplies. Another problem with fast fashion is that fast fashion depends on the idea that its' clothing items go in and out of style quickly, which causes consumers to buy more clothing from them. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothing per year. Once this ends up in a landfill, they produce massive amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas, as they degrade. However, although many clothing items are made of natural materials such as cotton or linen, these materials are highly processed with bleaches, dyes, and other chemicals. When placed in landfills, these chemicals leach into groundwater. When incinerated, the release dangerous toxins into our atmosphere. When buying clothing, consider where it is coming from, and whether you really need it.
Your dollar shows where your heart is! Here are some simple ways and brands to help you shop ethically!
Buy clothing second hand!
Buying clothing second hand not only does not support unethical labor practice, but also reduces clothing waste. One way to do this is by going to thrift stores. If you prefer online shopping, apps such as Depop make it easier than ever to find cute second hand clothing at a low price. Depop also allows you to sell your own used clothes and can help reduce your own clothing waste.
Do your research
The app Good On You among other blogs help you search brands and review how ethical they are. There are also many blogs that review brands and list great alternative brands.
Look for brands that advertise that they are ethical
Brands such as Everlane, and People Tree are 100% honest about where their products are made. This makes it easy to shop and is guilt free.
Below is the first blog we ever posted. With all of our new followers we thought it was important to continue to share what the root of our charity is all about.
The best way to help bring villages and communities out of poverty is to educate the younger generations, especially the girls. Many parents living in poverty overlook the education of their daughters and fail to see how much potential they have. Not only does educating girls give them the knowledge they need to get jobs, but it also gives them confidence, as well as the opportunity to start businesses, which in turn provides job opportunities for the rest of the community, helping the entire population. Educated women who are also married are able to add to the household income, providing a better upbringing for their children. Girls with an education also know their rights and are able to stand up for themselves as well as others, which prevents child marriage. Girls who can read and write are a lot less prone to be kidnapped and sell to brothels and are not forced into prostitution. This is because they have a proper education that can help them get a real job and they are smart enough to know where danger is hiding. Educated women also know more about healthcare and pregnancy, and are therefore able to reduce maternal mortality. They also have fewer children, which helps decrease the exponential population growth rates. The more women that are educated, the more women are involved in politics, creating a more efficient and representative government. Here is a simple list of positive impacts a girls’ education can create:
- Sending a girl to school helps them get a job
- Many women create their own businesses, creating jobs for the community
- Lowers the Chance of Child Marriage and Unplanned Pregnancies
- They Can Care for their Families
- Keep Themselves Healthy
- Can Send their Kids to School
This blog post is part one of three artist timelines. We have selected six of the most influencial female artists spanning from 1844-2018 and will be writing about their lives and work. Read on to learn about the first two artists, Mary Cassatt and Georgia O'Keeffe.
Mary Cassatt was born in Pennsylvania and fell in love with painting at a young age. Although her family was not supportive as her career as an artist (at the time women were encouraged to be a stay at home mother) she enrolled in art school at age 16. While attending the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, other students and teachers were discouraging and didn’t allow her to reach her full potential, so Cassatt headed to Europe. After facing many obstacles, Cassatt ended up settling in Paris to study the work of master artists. It was in Paris where she first met Edward Degas and fell in love with his work. His paintings, along with others in the Impressionism movement, inspired Cassatt to develop a style of her own. Many of Cassatt's works were portraits, unlike landscapes which were more popular at the time. She liked to explore ideas of femininity and motherhood. She also chose to create more candid portrait, as opposed to the posed and controlled portraits of the time, to show honesty in her art. At the end of her life, Cassatt went blind and passed away in 1926. Cassatt’s paintings are considered masterpieces and can be viewed in museums all over the world.
Georgia O'Keeffe : 1887-1986
We met Christina (Tina) Thomas through Lux Art Institute and were inspired by her story. Tina volunteered for the Peace Corps in the country of Georgia and now works at Lux. We would like to thank Tina for letting us interview her and sharing her amazing stories and advice.
Tina, right, with a friend Natia Kharibegashvili in Tbilisi, Georgia raising money for Women's Wellness Care HERA.
how did you get involved with the peace corps?
I was on the board of an organization when I first moved to Washington DC called Hope Through Health. We raised money to combat HIV and AIDs in Togo, Africa. That organization was founded by a returned Peace Corps volunteer and everyone on the board were former Peace Corps volunteers, except for myself. I had always wanted to go into Peace Corp but I always felt like I had to be a star ivy league college student or something, so I never thought about it. After about 10 years of living in Washington, a friend of mine who was a returned Peace Corps and served in Kazakhstan put the idea in my head. He told me that he thought I would really like it and he told me there was a short-term high-impact program called Peace Corps Response. In order to get into this program, you have to have served in Peace Corps before or have to have a least 10 years of experience in the position you’re applying for. So I went online and looked to see what openings were available and I saw that there was a fundraising and advocacy specialist position open for a women's health care clinic. Well, I had been involved in health care, fundraising, and doing advocacy for over 10 years so I figured, ‘well I might as well try to apply!’ And wouldn’t you know it, I can’t believe I got through, I was so excited. I think the medical exam was the hardest part. And I think they test your patience because they would keep making you come back for tests but I’m just so happy I did it. It was life changing and I met some of the most incredible people. I’m talking about lifelong change agents who really want to change the world.
So basically, what I did was I worked to raise money to combat breast cancer and to make sure women get treatment. I also did three strategic planning sessions for three different non profit organizations and I worked with them to establish their mission statement and three strategic objectives. I did one for a non profit that wanted to invest in women in tech. Getting young women your age or a little bit older to start learning about these kind of job skills. I worked for another organization that lead all of the volunteer coordination and leadership throughout the county, especially among young people, called Helping Hand. Another one was to provide services for displaced and homeless women in children from Russian-occupied territories, which is still going on. I’ll never forget, I was talking to the leaders of this project and I said, “we need to get more men involved,” and she said, “why do we need men Tina?!” I said, “ you know if we really want transform people's understanding we need to get the men involved and we need to have men on our side.” And she didn’t like that. It was just an example of how the genders are so separate in their identities instead of collaborating.
what did you learn in the peace corps?
I have travelled a lot, throughout the world since I was 16 and I think most people want to help, they just need to be asked. I think people need to be reminded that the world and people are innately good. I also learned that being yourself is very important. Before I went to Peace Corps I had some self-esteem issues and what I realized was that being myself and offering those innate talents that I had was the best. I learned that if there was another person who was really great at something and maybe I really wanted to be really great at that, I can’t. So why not focus on my own strengths, right? And I think people see that and respect that level of genuineness. I also learned how important it was to not forget to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Also, the people who are the most judgemental, are those who have the least experience or the least knowledge. They haven’t travelled, they only hang out with people that are in their group. I think you have to seek out situations where you might only be the white person in the room, or you might be the only girl in the room, and to know what it feels like. To empathize. And to read books on that. I don’t mean to get on a preach, but I do believe that there is white privilege out there. I would also say, and this is a hard one for me, but being willing to change your mind and admit you’re wrong.
The biggest lesson I learned was to never make assumptions about other people and other countries especially when they are negative. I found that those who judge the most know the least and and have experienced the least. I do believe that the people who talk negatively about other people are really just talking about themselves and not that other person.
how has the peace corps affected your daily life?
Family has become much more important to me. I lived with two families in Georgia and I love them as much as my family here, if not more so. I had a host-brother and a host-mother and I miss them. I befriended a young girl next door, and I taught her english and she taught me Georgian, she was about 11 years old. She had a big American birthday cake and I got to sit next to her at the head of the table and we still talk on Facebook! Her family can’t afford school supplies so I sent her an American Flag backpack, and apparently she went from being a shy girl to the most popular girl in school just because she had an American flag. That kind of stuff gives me goosebumps. You can make a big difference from some of the smallest decisions. Sometimes you do just have to start small.
what are some ways we can get involved?
First of all, I think what the two of you are doing is amazing, and it may sound cliche, but you know, leading by example, and I think that’s what you’re doing. I think if you don’t give up and you continue to persist and make an example, I think that is one of the things that you can do until you are of voting age. Some other suggestions I had for young adults are connecting with those people who are making a difference or want to. So reaching out to League of Women Voters, sending them an email saying, ‘this is an organization we have, do you have any ideas?” and keeping at it so by the time you do vote you know what the background is and you’ve created a following. And don’t be afraid to lead. I think nowadays especially woman, they’re afraid to lead. I mean, look at the number of women in the senate, it’s not good. So I think that confidence is a big part of it. I found for myself, just growing up, you know I was thinking about how I was in high school and I was voted ‘future lobbyist’ of my high school class cause I always had a big mouth. So I think part of it is not being afraid to discuss controversial subjects such as racism, gender violence, immigration, those kind of things. But don’t be judgmental about it, because I feel like people feel like their opinion is right and they only talk to people who agree with them and that just shuts down a level of communication. I think Just kind of opening up rather than saying ‘this is what it is, why do you disagree?’ it’s ‘what is your understanding of this and why do you feel that way?’
Tina also told as about a program called Girls Leading Our World, which many of her friends from the Peace Corps worked. We asked her about her experience working with GLOW and other organizations.
what is the glow program?
GLOW stands for Girls Leading Our World and it was started in 2005 in Romania. Basically, they were looking to start a program that fostered women's’ empowerment that went beyond gender stereotypes, that allowed women to get an education versus looking at just making babies and that kind of thing. They work with young girls who are teenagers and some college aged girls and help them build confidence and build healthy minds and bodies. They’ll learn tools they will need for employment. One of the big things I was doing when I was over in Georgia was coding. In a lot of these countries, you only see women in restaurants or you only see them doing janitorial work. Even in the home I had a host-brother who said that he didn’t do dishes, that it’s not a man’s job. And I said, “Well I have three brothers back home and they all do their own dishes, so you can do them to!” Anyways, the organization has been active for 20 years but unfortunately with the current funding (we lost a lot of Peace Corps funding with the new Trump administration) we haven’t been able to replicate that program as much as possible.
how were you involved with glow?
I personally was not involved in GLOW, but my friends and other Peace Corps volunteers who I worked with were. But I was involved in a program called Let Girls Learn. This program was started by Michelle Obama. If you Google it there’s a great video of her talking about it, and it has a similar concept to GLOW. It was lead by Michelle Obama from Executive Branch and they wanted it to be started out by Michelle Obama instead of a volunteer group in Romania. I proposed a project to get young women involved in breast health and breast cancer, because Georgia had one of the the highest mortality rates world wide for breast cancer. The stigma there is so bad that once, I was trying to get an honoree for a breast cancer event and she said that she hadn’t told her family, that they didn’t know, that she had made up a story. By the time women were getting diagnosed, it was too late. The rumors in the villages were that, “if I go in and get tested, that means I’m going to get it.” There were a lot of falsehoods and what I wanted to do was work with young women, especially of college age, to learn about breast cancer, to educate their moms and grandmothers as much as possible. They were more open to campaign and canvassing and that kind of thing. So based on that I was invited to the first conferences in Georgia, because Georgia was chosen as one of the countries that Michelle Obama wanted to concentrate on to discuss what projects we could start to implement. Unfortunately, because of the government transition, a lot of those programs, including this one, did not get funding. In fact, a worker from the Peace Corps who lead our gender initiative was laid off and they could no longer fund her position. But you all can help bring this back!
“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” George Bernard Shaw
“It seems impossible until it’s done.” - Nelson Mandela.
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” - Will Rogers
Child marriages occur all over the world. Some girls are forced into marriages at ages as young as 11 years-old. This not only results in a huge inbalance between men and women, but also results in the contraction of STDs and well as pregancy. Over 700 million girls and 150 million boys have been married under the age of 18 against their will.
why it happens
Many child marriages boil down to patriarchal social hierarchies still upheld in many countries. Women and girls need to be taken care of by men, and when they are younger, this responsibility falls to their fathers, who passes this responsibility to husbands at young ages.
Another reason child marriage occurs is due to economic instability in many countries. Families often sells their daughters into marriages in order to receive a ‘bride price’ or a dowry from the groom and his family. The bride and her family also see marriage as a way to secure economic stability for her and her family's future. Many girls who are sold into marriage are not educated and are not given an opportunity to go to school. With an education, girls are able to support themselves and are not forced into marriage. If girls were able to educate themselves they would be given more opportuntities within their community.
where it happens
how to help
A major way to help end child marriage is through educating and empowering girls. By working with girls in your community as well as educating the younger generations of problems such as child marriage we will be able to take more steps towards gender equality. Organizations such as Girls Not Brides and CAMFED put efforts into ending child marriages around the world.
another resource about child marriages is Memory Banda's plea against child marriage in her TedTalk: "Memory Banda: A warrior's cry against child marriage."
Our last workshop took place December 22nd at LUX Art Institute, where we were given a tour by the lovely Carla Roemer. We were able to view and discuss works of art by Andy Harper. We loved learning about his art and were inspired by his creations to create art of our own. Thank you to everyone who attended and donated and an extra huge thank you to Carla!