Making ‘herstory:’ New mural honors female pioneers

Community Reports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Four local artists came together to create a new mural, titled Together We Make Herstory. Artists Julianna Kirwin, Ashley Arnold, Michelle Korte and Lena Weiss each chose two women throughout history who inspire them to showcase in the mural outside of Kirwin’s studio in downtown Albuquerque.

Pictured in the mural are Georgia O’Keefe, Dolores Huerta, Deb Haaland, Augusta Savage, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Amanda Gordan, Emma Gonzalez and one self-portrait. “The results were so exciting. I’m so excited by each of our creations and they’re so colorful and wonderful,” Kirwin said. “We’re hoping that they’ll learn about those women, because maybe not everyone knows about some of the women we depicted.”

Inspired to do something to celebrate Women’s History Month, Kirwin gathered local female artists to assist her with this project. While they weren’t able to complete the mural in time before the end of Women’s History Month, they feel strongly that these women’s accomplishments should be celebrated every day. “It seems like women’s time is coming more and more. We have such icons now like Deb Haaland to look up to, so it just seemed like a really good moment to display that in a visual way,” Kirwin said.

Arnold is working towards getting her BFA at the University of New Mexico. In one of her classes, she learned about Georgia O’Keefe for more than the paintings she does, but rather for her confidence and vision when capturing the female body. Arnold also chose Dolores Huerta because of her civil rights activism. “It was beautiful being part of a collective of women that were creating together. I’m a brand new printmaker so this has really been an honor and a treat and humbling to be able to participate in this,” Arnold said.

Weiss chose Friedl Dicker Brandeis and Augusta Savage. Brandeis was an artist, educator and designer who studied at the Bauhaus School. While imprisoned by the Nazis in the Terezin Ghetto Model Camp, she taught children’s art classes. Savage was an African-American sculptor, educator, community organizer, curator, mentor and activist. “She was at the center of the Harlem Renaissance. Despite racism, sexism, and being stalked and harassed by Joseph Gould, she was committed to making a place for her work and that of her students. Although little of her work has survived, her students are among many of the better-known black artists,” Weiss said in a written statement.

Kirwin was inspired by members of the younger generation and chose Amanda Gorman and Emma Gonzalez. Gorman is a poet and activist and was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. Most notably, she delivered a poem at the Inauguration at the beginning of 2021, making her the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.

“herstory (noun) – history viewed from a female or specifically feminist perspective with a special attention to the experience of women”

Together We Make Herstory

Emma Gonzalez survived the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and became a very outspoken gun-control advocate. She is also one of the organizers of March For Our Lives. “They inspire me with the beauty of their clear and direct speech after having witnessed such a tragedy. I wanted to honor Emma Gonzalez and all that they stand for,” Kirwin said.

Korte began her project with Deb Haaland and a self-portrait as a test to see if she could work with the materials. She then decided to make that portrait the photos of the “anonymous woman” to represent all women. “It could be anybody, and standing with these really powerful historical activists, artists, we really left it open who we wanted to depict,” Korte said.

Kirwin estimates it will be up on the wall anywhere from six to eight months, and is located at Kirwin’s studio at 8th St. and Mountain Road.

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