Feminist Movers Makers & Shakers: Jen Bloomer and Radici Studios

What is your background in feminism &/ social justice? Can you talk about the evolution of your art?

I had a model of a strong capable woman in my life from an early age. My father had a severe head injury when I was six and my mother juggled supporting him as well as raising three kids. Watching the way people reacted to my father’s disability growing up, instilled in me a strong desire to protect and advocate for those with less privilege and gave me a strong curiosity about difference and the ways in which we connect across difference. We didn’t travel much growing up, but in my 20’s I wanted to see the world and experience other cultures. Over the next decade, I moved to Guatemala, Italy, Kenya, Thailand, India, Eritrea, and I brought my paints with me. I set up my easel on the streets, painted the people I saw and talked to them about their lives. I got jobs working in schools and in refugee camps and shelters for kids living on the streets. I painted alongside them and watched their paintings come alive — fascinated especially by their self portraits.

I returned to the U.S. and continued working with immigrant populations and with kids with special needs, using art as a means to connect. I worked for several non-profits and found myself moving up into administrative roles, which was not feeding my soul. I made the decision to go back to school and study expressive arts therapy to deepen my understanding of the power of art for transformation. I spent time researching my roots, where I come from, my people’s history — or as much of it as I could uncover — in order to better ground myself in who I am. I began creating murals that explored family ancestry. I also worked with schools and non profits facilitating workshops for teens, guiding them to  explore their own life stories and create murals collectively. The recent election shifted my focus from mural making to political protest imagery as I have felt the need to create work more quickly that highlights the human rights violations and lack of human respect in the public sphere.

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Feminist Movers Makers & Shakers: In Solidarity, We Resist

How would you describe your project & what do you hope to accomplish? Why is this work important?

In Solidarity, We Resist’s mission is to empower Queer and Trans survivors of sexual violence through community building, education,and art. We create workshops, organize community events, and use art to foster healing for Queer and Trans survivors of sexual assault. It started out as one person engaging a campus about sexual assault and has grown into a team of badass feminists engaging a community to support queer and trans survivors. Our ultimate goal is to engage, empower, and support survivors. When survivors leave our workshops feeling like they’ve been heard, maybe they’ve healed a little, and know that they are not alone, we’ve been successful. 

I hope to demolish the singularity of the narrative of cis straight white woman as the only victim of sexual assault. Sexual violence has affected all genders, abilities, ethnicities. When we don’t give space to a variety of narratives we isolate survivors who are from the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.

Queer and trans people face much higher rates of sexual violence in our communities but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a public story about sexual assault in the queer community that hasn’t villainized the queer person. Our stories don’t support a narrative of “respectable trauma.” The problem is that healing from trauma it isn’t a linear, clean cut, happy-ending. Healing is messy, and isolation only makes that more dangerous. At least half of trans people have faced sexual assault, 44% of lesbians, 61% of bisexual women, 26% of gay men, 37% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence. Statistics for genders other than men and women aren’t yet available; even in collecting data people outside the gender binary are erased. People who have experienced sexual violence have higher rates of PTSD, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, and suicide. Isolation from our communities and further marginalization can only increase those rates. The majority of my chosen family has struggled with healing from the trauma, shame, and isolation that comes from sexual assault. Read More

Feminist Movers Makers & Shakers: Allie Doss and Speak Up

How would you describe your outreach work & what do you hope to accomplish?

My work involves suicide prevention, education and awareness reducing the stigma around mental illness hoping to transform it into a positive mental wellness outlook.  We focus on a “youbeyou” campaign that was developed to promote positive and encouraging images, feelings and outlook.

Why is this work important?

Teen suicide has increased at an alarming rate. My family was directly impacted by suicide and we hope to help other teens reach out and not feel ashamed by society’s ideas of what is acceptable and what is not.

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Feminist Movers Makers & Shakers: Julie Gough and Illustrated Women In History

What inspired you to embark on this path?

I started the project in August 2015 after reading about a museum in the East End of London that had been granted permission on the basis that it was to be celebrating the accomplishments of women. Days before it was planned to open it was revealed to be a museum about Jack the Ripper – famous for brutally murdering women. It made me think about how much we actually need museums and other ways for people to learn about the influential women that have shaped our history, and how little I actually know about those women. I was determined to do something about it this and so Illustrated Women in History was born!

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Feminist Movers Makers & Shakers: Feminist Night School

How would you describe your outreach and what do you hope to accomplish?

Alli Feminist Night School (FNS) is a new community organization in Chicago which promotes intersectional feminism and is open to anyone who identifies as female, femme, assigned female at birth, or is gender non conforming. Post-election and feeling like crap, a group of people got together and started a “night school” in order to educate themselves on intersectional feminism and a host of other issues including affordable housing, immigration, under-served Chicago youth programs, education and more.

FNS is committed to developing fundraisers for different organizations in need. The first fundraiser will be on May 3rd and 100% of proceeds will benefit the Chicago Women’s Health Center. CWHC facilitates the empowerment of women and trans people by providing access to health care and health education in a respectful environment where people pay what they can afford. Read More