Modern Makers: Sharlaine Anapu

Inspired by the Makers Mart at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the Modern Makers series highlights local women makers and their diverse companies.

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Sharlaine Anapu at work; Photo: Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry, NMWA

Company: Sharlaine Anapu
Maker: Sharlaine Anapu

Sharlaine Anapu and her company are based in Washington, D.C. Anapu designs and produces handmade jewelry.

How did you get started?
I took a four-week fabrication class at the Art League. After taking that class I realized art making was something that I wanted to continue. I started taking classes at the Corcoran. They had recently started a jewelry program there, so I started taking those classes too.

What inspires you?
I think for me a lot of it is innate, what I like aesthetically. And in the past, I kind of gravitated more to very organic, natural pieces. But lately I’ve been trying to incorporate a lot of things that are important to me like my heritage. I’ve been trying to infuse some of the tattooing designs that are used in Samoan culture into my work.

What does the word “maker? mean to you?
To me it’s somebody that uses their hands to create something. . . an idea that they’ve thought up themselves. That’s how it comes across to me—being able to create my own work, to produce my own designs.

How do you see your company evolving?
I would love to be doing this full-time. Even though I do jewelry, I always think about other products, other things that I could make. I have always been interested in leather belts and leather bracelets. Maybe in the future I could incorporate my jewelry making skills into leather designs and leather goods.

Do you have any insights to share as a female business owner?
I think networking with people and the community is a really good way to find out about shows and come up with ideas. The other women that I share the studio with, we always try to brainstorm with other makers and artists in D.C.

What is your favorite work from NMWA’s collection?
Magdalena Abakanowicz’s 4 Seated Figures made me wonder what the artist was thinking when she created it. It’s a phenomenal work of art.

What inspired the limited-edition NMWA product?
I visited the She Who Tells a Story exhibition and those works really inspired me. I thought about using a dog tag as an object of identification and incorporating my heritage into that. I used tattooing—an important aspect of my culture—on the dog tag to make a great piece.

Browse the Modern Makers products on Museum Shop’s website, including the limited-edition etched dog tags by Sharlaine Anapu. Browse #NMWAMakers on Twitter to see more creations.

Modern Makers: Printed Wild

Inspired by the Makers Mart at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the Modern Makers series highlights local women makers and their diverse companies.

Eva Calonder of Printed Wild in her studio; Photo: Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry, NMWA

Eva Calonder at work; Photo: Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry, NMWA

Company: Printed Wild
Maker: Eva Calonder

Printed Wild features a line of handcrafted goods with patterns inspired by nature. Eva Calonder fashions accessories like pouches, clutches, and tote bags as well as home décor products.

How did you get started?
I worked as a graphic designer and freelance illustrator for several years. I had the opportunity to re-think my career. I decided to combine my love for patterns and design into something more crafty. So I took classes at the Corcoran School of Art. I took sewing classes at Bits of Thread, a local sewing school, and then I registered for my first craft fair at the Hillyer Arts Space.

What does the word “maker” mean to you?
I think I was always more interested in making crafts than buying things. As far back as I can remember, my sisters and parents mostly received handmade presents from me.

What inspires you?
My main inspiration is nature. I spend a lot of time observing it to create patterns. I use Micron pens with very fine points to achieve the level of detail I’m looking for. I’m also influenced by trends in fashion. Because my drawings end up on bags, I try to pay attention to the latest accessory looks.

Do you have any insights to share as a female business owner?
There are so many strong and wonderful business women in Washington, D.C. Going to markets and meeting the makers is truly empowering. Share tips and support each other!

How do you begin a new project?
I always start from an original drawing for my patterns. I cut stencils, carve linoleum blocks, and draw very intricate nature scenes. After I have my design, I scan the pattern and edit it in Photoshop. Then the final design is transferred onto a silk screen. I also make all the bags for my designs, which involves cutting fabric or leather, ironing, and sewing.

What is your favorite work from NMWA’s collection?
I discovered Elizabeth Adela Stanhope Forbes’s work. She and her husband opened an art school in 1899 to encourage artists to paint directly from nature. I also loved May Stevens’s SoHo Women Artists, which portrays an incredible group of New York City-based women artists from the 1970s. It’s an era that I would have liked to experience—plus, Stevens paints absolutely gorgeous patterns!

What inspired the limited-edition NMWA product?
I decided to go with what I do best, which is designing patterns inspired by nature. I drew directly from May Stevens’s painting in the museum’s galleries. I combined the patterns I saw in the painting and created one wild pattern.

Browse the Modern Makers products on Museum Shop’s website, including the limited-edition large foldable clutch and slim clutch by Printed Wild. Browse #NMWAMakers on Twitter to see more creations.

Modern Makers: Stitch & Rivet

Inspired by the Makers Mart at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the Modern Makers series highlights local women makers and their diverse companies.

Katie Stack, owner of Stitch & Rivet; Photo: NMWA, Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry

Katie Stack, owner of Stitch & Rivet; Photo: NMWA, Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry

Company: Stitch & Rivet
Maker: Katie Stack

Katie Stack owns the studio and retail shop of Stitch & Rivet. Based in Washington D.C., Stitch & Rivet is a canvas and leather bags and accessories company. The business offers a collection of handmade products, including handbags, unisex wallets, belts, small pouches, and other items for everyday use.

What does the word “maker” mean to you?
Being a maker means, to me, the act of creating with your hands.

How did you get started?
I started making things as a small child. My parents tell stories about me in the middle of the night. They would get up and hear me making noise in my room and they would come in and say, “What are you doing?” . . . and I would say, “I am making things.” When it came time for me to go to college I studied costume design and pattern making and started making things professionally.

What inspires you?
At Stitch & Rivet I get my influences for the designs from customers. Customers come in and say, “Hey! I am looking for this thing that does this and I can’t find it anywhere. What would be your take on it?” I do a lot of my work based on my desires for products that I’m not finding in the marketplace. I like to design things that are useful and have a lot of functionality.

What is your favorite work from NMWA’s collection?
My favorite work from NMWA’s collection would have to be one of the Alma Thomas paintings. She was an artist who worked in Washington D.C. and I admire how she used color in such an impactful way.

Can you name a woman artist who inspires you?
The female artist that has inspired me the most is Julie Taymor. She is a costume designer, director, and puppet maker. I saw her speak when I was a freshman in college. I was very impressed that she was a woman working in a male-dominated industry.

What inspired the NMWA limited-edition product?
The NMWA limited-edition product was inspired by the burgeoning Made in D.C. project and the museum itself. The National Museum of Women in the Arts focuses entirely on women’s achievements and this small pouch is a product that we designed together to support that important work.

What else do you want readers to know?
It is important for us as a society to inspire young female artists to continue to produce work and to find their own voices. We should help female artists express themselves creatively and assertively.

Browse the Modern Makers products on Museum Shop’s website, including the limited-edition waxed-canvas utility pouch by Stitch & Rivet. Browse #NMWAMakers on Twitter to see more creations.

Modern Makers: Typecase Industries

Inspired by the Makers Mart at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the Modern Makers series highlights local women makers and their diverse companies.

Left to right: Alessandra Echeverri, owner of Typecase Industries, and Sahar Naderi; Photo: Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry, NMWA

Left to right: Alessandra Echeverri, owner of Typecase Industries, and Sahar Naderi; Photo: Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry, NMWA

Company: Typecase Industries
Makers: Alessandra Echeverri 

Typecase Industries is a full-service design and print studio based in Shaw. Located north of Howard University, the company creates wedding invitations, posters, greeting cards, business cards—anything on paper.

How did you get started?
There are three of us and we met during grad school. . . . About a year after we graduated we decided to start the studio as a way to make things and not have to work for anybody else.

What inspires you?
Our clients are really important because we’re making a lot of things for people like wedding invitations—which are very personal—so the inspiration has to come from them in that case. But then we get to do our own product development. . . . We get a lot of inspiration from D.C.

What does the word “maker” mean to you?
“Maker” means someone that uses their skills. . . . uses their creativity, and kind of pushes the boundaries of things that have already been made. I feel like you should always be making something new and exciting—at least for yourself if not for other people, like we do!

How do you see your company evolving?
Expansion. So, I’d like to have more wholesale business or just have more products that people know us for. It kind of frees us up to do more specific custom work and take on those fun projects.

Do you have any insights to share as a female business owner?
I feel like you should always stand your ground when you are dealing with people. Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, just try to be assertive and get your point across. Really go for those goals that you set for yourself.

What is your favorite work from NMWA’s collection?
The museum has a really great collection of artists’ books. Not many people know about artists’ books but we studied them in school and I really appreciated having that resource. It is a little gem in the library.

What inspired the limited-edition NMWA product?
I worked with Sahar Naderi, another local artist that works for Typecase. Together, we made these really cool patterns and went wild with fun shapes and color.

What is your most popular product?
Probably our greeting cards. We have really fun greeting cards that are all over the city now. People often find us through those.

Browse the Modern Makers products on Museum Shop’s website, including the limited-edition NMWA poster by Typecase Industries. Browse #NMWAMakers on Twitter to see more creations.

Modern Makers: Handmade Habitat

Inspired by the Makers Mart at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the Modern Makers series highlights local women makers and their diverse companies.

Amina Ahmad, owner of Handmade Habitat; Photo: Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry, NMWA

Amina Ahmad, owner of Handmade Habitat; Photo: Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry, NMWA

Company: Handmade Habitat
Maker: Amina Ahmad

Artist and chandler Amina Ahmad owns Handmade Habitat, an all-natural soy-candle and beauty-goods company specializing in products that uplift and inspire the soul.

Ahmad studied environmental science at the University of Maryland. Passionate about building the creative community in the D.C. metropolitan area, Ahmad is also the co-founder of the Unofficial Hand Lettering Society of Silver Spring. When not in her studio, Ahmad often strolls through her neighbors’ gardens in Takoma Park with her dog, Rosie.

How did you get started?
My business started a few years ago. I originally made bags and clothing. Then one year, I experimented with candle making for Christmas gifts. I ended up really liking it and started incorporating it into the existing business.

What inspires you? 
I am inspired by nature. I am really inspired by artists and a lot of the other work that I see in the world. I’m also inspired by my own yoga practice, which helped me discover what I really value in my work. 

What does the creative process look like for you?
I start with a concept—something that I want to incorporate into my own life. That’s how it has always been. I started making things that I wanted, whether it was a bag, a new dress, or oven mitts.

What does the word “maker” mean to you?
I think a maker has a really wide definition. . . . Making is a core part of my identity. I come from a very D.I.Y family. If there is a problem, you troubleshoot it first with whatever is available before you buy something to fix it.

Limited-edition NMWA Frida Candle by Handmade Habitiat; Photo: Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry, NMWA

Limited-Edition NMWA Frida Candle by Handmade Habitat; Photo: Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry, NMWA

How do you see your company evolving?
I think it would be really nice to be able to build a community around the brand that has a lot of the elements of presence, mindfulness, and artistic introspection.

What is your favorite work from NMWA’s collection?
Definitely Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait. I love that there is a Frida in D.C. . . . She provides a lot of power in her images. I think that the museum really shows that there is so much power in being a woman.

What inspired the limited-edition NMWA product?
While walking through the museum, I have the overwhelming feeling that femininity and art are not powerless. The works of art show that there is so much power in being a woman today and at every point in history.

Browse products by Handmade Habitat on the Museum Shop’s website, including the limited-edition Frida Candle, inspired by NMWA’s own Frida Kahlo painting. Browse #NMWAMakers on Twitter to see more creations.

Holiday Sale on Library Fellows’ Limited-Edition Artists’ Books

Looking for unique handmade gifts for the holidays?
Consider an award-winning Library Fellows’ artist’s book!

Thoughts on Color, Color of Thoughts, by Beth Weiss

Thoughts on Color, Color of Thoughts, by Beth Weiss

What is the Library Fellows Artist Book Program?
The Library Fellows Program was established in 1989 to encourage and support the creation of artists’ books by women artists and to benefit the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center. The Fellows’ contributions are used to produce an artist’s book in a limited edition of 125 copies.

The winning artists keep 25 copies as a form of remuneration for their creative efforts. The remaining copies are sold, and the proceeds benefit the Library and Research Center.

Copies of many previous books are available for sale—some at over 75% off the original prices. Availability cannot be guaranteed for long, since these are limited-edition works.

streets of used to be (detail), by Renee Stout

streets of used to be (detail), by Renee Stout

How may I purchase a limited-edition Library Fellows Artist’s Book?
Before purchasing, you can view descriptions of each book in the online brochure and high-resolution photos here. If you are visiting the museum, you may request to see a sample of a book at either the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center or the Museum Shop.

For more information or to purchase:

Email: shop@nmwa.org
Call: 877-226-5294
View online: http://shop.nmwa.org/artists-books
Visit the Museum Shop, located on the first floor of NMWA

Goldilocks, by Nicole Vanasse

Goldilocks, by Nicole Vanasse

Goldilocks: $75 (was $395)  Click here for more images!

Thoughts on Color, Color of Thoughts, by Beth Weiss

Thoughts on Color, Color of Thoughts, by Beth Weiss

Thoughts on Color, Color of Thoughts: $35 (was $300) Click here for more images!

streets of used to be, by Renee Stout

streets of used to be, by Renee Stout

streets of used to be: $75 (was $275) Click here for more images!

Quercus Psalter, by Sue Ann Robinson

Quercus Psalter, by Sue Ann Robinson

Quercus Psalter: $50 (was $127.50) Click here for more images!

Royalists to Romantics: Spotlight on Marie Guilhelmine Benoist

In Royalists to Romantics: Women Artists from the Louvre, Versailles, and Other French National Collections, 77 works by 35 artists display the talents of French Revolution-era women artists. Their paintings are windows into their careers and the singular challenges of their time. The catalogue that NMWA has published to illustrate Royalists to Romantics includes essays as well as individual artist biographies that give insight into the lives of women artists working in France between 1750 and 1848. This excerpt explores the life of one the the show’s featured artists, Marie Guilhelmine Benoist. For additional information, visit www.nmwa.org, or purchase the catalogue from the Museum Shop by calling 877-226-5294.

Marie Guilhelmine Benoist, The Consultation, or The Advice of the Fortune-Teller, 1812

Marie Guilhelmine Benoist, The Consultation, or The Advice of the Fortune-Teller, 1812; Oil on canvas, 76 7/8 × 56 3/4 in.; Musée de la ville, Saintes

The career of Marie Guilhelmine Benoist (Paris, 1768–Paris, 1826) was profoundly entwined with the politics of the Revolutionary era. In the 1780s Benoist and her sister, Marie-Élisabeth Leroulx de la Ville (1770–1842), studied with Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825) and Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun.¹ A controversy arose in July 1787, when the young women’s presence in David’s Louvre studio troubled the comte d’Angiviller, the director of the Batîments du roi (the royal arts administration), who objected to the mingling of the sexes in a royal palace.² Benoist’s romantic attachment to the poet Charles-Albert Demoustier (1760–1801) also attracted attention in these years; Demoustier’s 1786 Lettres à Émilie sur la mythologie (Letters to Émilie on [Greek] mythology) were reportedly inspired by her.

Barred from the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, which reached its quota of four female members in 1783, Benoist exhibited at the annual outdoor exhibitions held at the place Dauphine, on the Île de la Cité, from 1784 to 1789. There she displayed pastel studies as well as self-portraits, portraits, and sentimental genre scenes painted in oil. In 1791 she took advantage of the Salon’s open exhibition policy, exhibiting three narrative paintings in the Louvre that year.

Royalist allegiances generated problems, however. Benoist’s father, René Leroulx-Delaville, served in Louis XVI’s administration and in 1793 the artist married Pierre-Vincent Benoist, who fled France later that year to avoid arrest; he was accused, in a warrant signed by Jacques-Louis David, of plotting to rescue Marie-Antoinette from prison. In 1795, with hostilities ended, Madame Benoist was reunited with her husband, exhibited at the Salon (after a hiatus), received a financial award from the government, and was granted coveted lodgings in the Louvre.

Chief Curator Jordana Pomeroy discusses Benoist's Portrait of Napoleon

Chief Curator Jordana Pomeroy discusses Benoist's Portrait of Napoleon

The nineteenth century brought still greater successes. Benoist’s best-known work, the Portrait of a Negress (Musée du Louvre, Paris),³ caused a stir at the 1800 Salon. Following Napoléon’s coup d’état of 18 Brumaire (November 9, 1799), Monsieur Benoist was appointed to the Ministry of the Interior, and Madame joined the cadre of artists disseminating images of Napoléon and the imperial family throughout the First Empire. Several of these state portraits appeared at Salons, where they attracted additional commissions. Benoist earned a second-class medal at the 1804 Salon and opened a school for girls in the same year. She turned increasingly to genre painting at this time, creating works like Reading from the Bible (1810) and The Consultation, or The Fortune-Teller (1812), both seen in this exhibition.

In 1815 the restored Bourbon monarchy appointed Monsieur Benoist to the Council of State. In the interest of decorum, Marie Guilhelmine Benoist abruptly ended her career. She never exhibited again.

1. The seminal source on Benoist is Marie-Juliette Ballot, Une élève de David, la comtesse Benoist, l’Émilie de Demoustier, 1768-1826 (Paris, 1914). The present account is also indebted to Vivian P. Cameron, “Benoist, Mme,” in Dictionary of Women Artists, ed. Delia Gaze (London, 1997), vol. 1, pp. 244-47; Gen Doy, Women and Visual Culture in Nineteenth-Centry France, 1800-1852 (London and New York, 1998) pp. 34-36; Ann Sutherland Harris and Linda Nochlin, Women Artists, 1550-1950, exh. Cat. (New York, 1976), pp. 209-10; Margaret A. Oppenheimer, “Three Newly Identified Paintings by Marie-Guillemine Benoist,” Metropolitan Museum Journal 31 (1996), pp. 143-50; and Margaret A. Oppenheimer, “Women Artists in Paris, 1791-1814” (PhD diss., New York University, 1996), pp. 110-14.

2. See Mary Vidal, “The ‘Other Atelier’: Jacques-Louis David’s Female Students,” in Women, Art and the Politics of Identity, ed. Melissa Lee Hyde and Jennifer Milam (Aldershot, 2003), pp. 237-52. Portions of the relevant correspondence are published in J.J. Guiffrey, “Écoles de demoiselles dans les ateliers de David et de Suvée au Louvre,” in Nouvelles archives de l’art français (Paris, 1874-75), pp. 394-401.

3. Benoist’s Portrait of a Negress is reproduced in Germaine Greer, The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work (New York, 2001), p. 299.

Royalists to Romantics: Women Artists from the Louvre, Versailles, and Other French National Collections

Opening next Friday, February 24, Royalists to Romantics: Women Artists from the Louvre, Versailles, and Other French National Collections features 77 paintings, prints, and sculptural works from 1750 to 1850—many of which have never been seen outside of France. In keeping with NMWA’s mission to rediscover and celebrate women artists of the past and demonstrate their continued relevance, the museum’s curators spent months scouring the collections of dozens of French museums and libraries to cull rarely-seen works by women artists. Royalists to Romantics showcases these exceptional works and reveals how the tumultuous period—which saw the flowering of the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the terrors of the French revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon, and the restoration of the monarchy—affected the lives and careers of women artists. The exhibition will be on view through July 29, 2012.

Image of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Portrait of a Woman, 1787

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Portrait of a Woman, 1787; Oil on canvas, 39 ⅞ x 32 in.; Musée des beaux-arts, Quimper

Royalists to Romantics is the first exhibition to focus on women artists of this time period in France and demonstrate how they navigated a highly gendered world that presented different opportunities for education and patronage than for their male counterparts,” said NMWA Chief Curator Dr. Jordana Pomeroy. “The exhibition and catalogue for Royalists to Romantics will help to banish the obscurity that has veiled the legacy of many 18th-century French women artists.”

Featuring 35 artists, including Marguerite Gérard, Antoine Cecile Haudebourt-Lescot, Adélaïde Labille-Guillard, Sophie Rude, Anne Vallayer-Coster, and Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun, the exhibition explores the political and social dynamics that shaped their world and influenced their work. Some of these artists flourished with support of such aristocratic patrons as Marie Antoinette, who not only appointed her favorite female artists Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun and Anne Vallayer-Coster to court, but advocated their acceptance into the Académie Royale de peinture et de sculpture—an official seal of approval that could establish an artist’s career. The political upheavals of the French Revolution and the following decades brought a new set of challenges for women artists.

Image of Adrienne Marie Louise Grandpierre-Deverzy, The Studio of Abel de Pujol, 1822

Adrienne Marie Louise Grandpierre-Deverzy, The Studio of Abel de Pujol, 1822; Oil on canvas, 37 7/8 x 50 7/8 in.; Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

“In celebration of the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ 25th anniversary, we are delighted to present Royalists to Romantics, an exhibition dedicated to a group of extraordinary 18th-century women artists that inspired our founder, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay,” said NMWA Alice West Director, Dr. Susan Fisher Sterling. “Like other important historical surveys NMWA has organized, including An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum and Italian Women Artists: From Renaissance to Baroque, bringing this great art to the U.S. from the Louvre, Versailles and other French national collections demonstrates our continued commitment to new scholarship about exceptional women artists over the centuries.”

Image of Antoine Cecile Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot, The Capture of Thionville, 1837

Antoine Cecile Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot, The Capture of Thionville, 1837; Oil on canvas, 34 ¼ x 46 in.; Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon; Image: Franck Raux; Courtesy of Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, NY

NMWA members are invited to a special Member Preview Day, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. on Thursday, February 23, 2012, featuring:

  • A noon lecture by New School Professor Laura Auricchio: “Royalists to Revolutionaries: Women Artists in the French Revolution”
  • Staff-led gallery tours throughout the day
  • An opportunity to see NMWA’s artist-in-residence and womenswear designer Celia Reyer begin work on the Brunswick traveling coat, inspired by and created through historically accurate production processes, that will bring to life the fashions in the portraiture on view.

For information about the day, or about becoming a NMWA member, visit www.nmwa.org or call toll-free 866-875-4627.

The 135-page, fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue has been published by Scala Publishers, with essays by Pomeroy and other noted scholars in the field. (To purchase the catalogue, call the Museum Shop toll-free at 877-226-5294. $45/Member $40.50; Item #3500.)

 

Royalists to Romantics: Women Artists from the Louvre, Versailles, and Other French National Collections has been organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., with logistical support from sVo Art, Versailles.

The exhibition is made possible by the Annenberg Foundation, the Florence Gould Foundation, Hermès, Teresa L. and Joe R. Long, and Jacqueline Badger Mars, with additional funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, an Anonymous Donor, the Robert Lehman Foundation, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Further support is provided by Air France and Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square.

Supporting Women Artisans Around the World

Rebecca Lolosoli with Breezy Diether, an education intern at NMWA, at the Museum Shop Trunk Show and Sale.

Yesterday, Rebecca Lolosoli came to NMWA’s Museum Shop for the International Women Artisans Initiative Trunk Show and Sale and discussed her important work. Rebecca was recognized by Vital Voices at the 2010 Global Leaderships Awards on March 10th for her creation of the Umoja Uaso Women’s Organization in Kenya.

Women in the Umoja Organization support themselves through making and selling beaded jewelry and crafts, enabling them to leave behind lives of poverty. Rebecca said that young girls are taught how to create jewelry by their mothers. Traditionally, seeds were used for the beads but now they use beautiful beads purchased in Nairobi. Rebecca used to make her own jewelry but due to her leadership responsibilities rarely has the time to create her own work.

Rebecca explained that the Umoja Organization assists women throughout the Samburu District in Kenya in the sales process, providing advice about where to buy materials and market their jewelry. The Umoja Organization has grown significantly over the past nineteen years and now Vital Voices has given them the opportunity to sell their crafts internationally. Rebecca encourages women to establish groups of craftsman in their own communities as a support system. The Umoja Organization enables women with a skill to support their family. “It’s good for them,” she says. “It changes their lives.”

About the Author-Breezy Diether is currently an education intern at NMWA.

NMWA and Vital Voices Global Partnership Present a Trunk Show and Special Reception on March 15, 2–8 p.m.

Museum Shop International Women Artisans Initiative Trunk Show and Sale

Purchase a wide range of jewelry, home accents and personal accessories made by courageous women around the world who use their creative abilities to improve economic stability and enhance the lives of their families. A portion of the proceeds from sales of these products will assist women in this effort.

The NMWA Museum Shop established the International Women Artisans Initiative to recognize the global, artistic traditions of women artisans, and further link decorative design and functional craft with social responsibility and the promise of dignity for all women.

Special Reception to Meet Rebecca Lolosoli, 2010 Vital Voices Leadership Honoree

Rebecca Lolosoli from Kenya will be recognized at the 2010 Global Leaderships Awards on March 10th. The Awards honor and celebrate women leaders around the world who are working to strengthen democracy, increase economic opportunity, and protect human rights.

Rebecca Lolosoli is receiving this honor from Vital Voices due to her leadership in the creation and establishment of the Umoja Uaso Women’s Organization. Throughout her life, Rebecca witnessed discrimination and cruelty towards women in her Samburu culture in Kenya. She began to advocate for better treatment for women, speaking out against the male leadership of her community. Her cries were met with violence as she was beaten for her ideas and opinions.

After being rejected for her plea for justice Rebecca changed tactics.  Along with 16 other homeless women she created the Umoja Organization. Umoja, meaning “unity”, was established to create a haven for women. The Umoja Organization is a place for abused women to come for support, safety and resources. Women in the Umoja Organization are able to support themselves through making and selling jewelry, enabling them to leave behind lives of poverty. Through their artistic creations these women are able to rise above what is expected of them and become female leaders in their own communities.

Vital Voices Global Partnership

The nonprofit Vital Voices Global Partnership grew out of the U.S. government’s successful Vital Voices Democracy Initiative. The Vital Voices Democracy Initiative was established in 1997 by then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright after the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing to promote the advancement of women as a U.S. foreign policy goal.

Under the leadership of the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative, the U.S. government, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations, the World Bank, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the European Union and other governments coordinated Vital Voices conferences throughout the world, bringing together thousands of emerging women leaders from more than 80 countries. These conferences launched regional Vital Voices initiatives that continue to give women the skills and resources they need to lift up themselves, their communities, and their countries.

The overwhelmingly positive response to the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative led to the creation of Vital Voices Global Partnership as a nonprofit non-governmental organization in June 2000. Vital Voices is now continuing the work of advancing women’s economic, political and social status around the world, by providing skills, networking, and other support to women around the world, whether they are working to increase women’s political participation in Latin America or promote women’s entrepreneurship in the Middle East.

History provided by vitalvoices.org

Contact MuseumShop@nmwa.org for more information.

About the Author-Breezy Diether is currently an education intern at NMWA.