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How Women See the World: Elles at the Seattle Art Museum

Bloggers at Elles Pompidou at Seattle Art Museum

Museums are not places that we go to be entertained, they are places that we go to come together and discuss ideas. They exist to make us think.

Wendy Simons, a docent at the Seattle Art Museum, said a version of the above at the end of our tour. A few weeks ago, the Seattle Art Museum invited a group of bloggers to the museum for a preview and a guided tour of Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris exhibit. Elles at the Seattle Art Museum features more than 125 works of art made by 75 women artists from 1909 to 2007 and through their work reveals a history of 20th and 21st century art from a perspective that we’ve never seen before, women. And this exhibit is a fraction of the 500 pieces that were part of the original exhibit at the Pompidou in Paris, France.

Before Elles first appeared in at the Pompidou from May 2009 to March 2011, art by women were never part of discourse on the history of art and culture. Think back to when you were in school and learned the names of Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gaguin, and many other artists of the 20th century. Did you ever stop to ask why there wasn’t a single female artist included in those lessons?

It wasn’t that women weren’t creating art during this time. They were painting; we just didn’t know their names.

Elles exists to change that and show how the twentieth century looked through the eyes of women like Natalia Gontcharova, Tamara de Lempicka, Suzanne Valadon, Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois, Hannah Wilke, Dora Maar, Diane Arbus, and many more. Names that I didn’t know until I saw their art for the first time at the Seattle Art Museum. (more…)

What Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein Have to do with Success

Marilyn Monroe reading, by Elliott Erwitt, 1956

When I was twelve, I wrote down this quote from Marilyn Monroe:

I was never told that I was beautiful when I was younger. I think that all young girls should be told that they are beautiful even if they really aren’t.

And ever since then, I’ve heard her words in my head. I, too, believe that every little girl should be told that she’s beautiful. But I disagree with Ms. Monroe that little girls are not beautiful. When you’re little, the world is yours to take and create. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to, and you can do whatever you want to do.

Last week I read this correspondence between Albert Einstein and a little girl who wanted to be a scientist. In it, he gave her the best advice that every woman can apply to her career and anything that she sets her mind to.

As a woman, I encounter so many articles about women in work and the role gender plays in success. I have been part of conversations about how to we need more women in the tech field, how brogrammers have created a world that is challenging to play in, and that women still can’t have it all.

As a member of Gen Y, we know that the world that we’re working in now is way different than every other generation that came before us. The majority of us are working jobs that did not exist 10 years ago or even before we had them. We see work as an activity, not a place we spend our days. And most of us have a side-hustle, hobby, or passion project that we created ourselves and devote time beyond the 9-to-5 building.

And even though we’ve been accused for being the cheapest generation, we’re working hard, despite the horrible economy, to build a life that we want. And we’re filling it with the people, experiences, and the things that we desire.

We were raised to believe that if we want something bad enough, all we have to do is work hard and we can do it. And we’re very aware that we can’t do it alone, because if we could, we wouldn’t want to.

Marilyn Monroe wants every girl to know that she’s beautiful, whether she is or is not. Gen Y has was raised to believe that we could do anything that we set our minds to.

But as we get further and further into our version of adulthood, we realize that we can’t have everything that we want, when we want it. We get confused after reading articles that tell us that women keep other women from getting ahead at the same time that others tell us that women can be our closest allies. We aren’t sure what to think. We forget the hopes and dreams that we secretly scribbled into notebooks when we were teenagers. We get consumed in the struggle.

A friend says the right words, at the right time. They pass us a book that brings us back to where we need to be. Someone throws us a life vest and we read something that was written for what we’re experiencing in that very moment.

We realize what Einstein was right—who we are and what we want to be is possible, and not to let something that we can’t control, like being young, a woman, inexperienced, or something else, get in our way.

In our world, non-beautiful girls can be beautiful and little girls can grow up to be scientists. Rules and expectations were set by the generations who came before us. And they created their definition of success.

This is our world, and success is what we make of if.

Photograph by Elliott Erwitt via Mycroft Books

Have you registered to vote?

VoiceBox, illustration by John Kimball

In the summer of 2004, my best friend and I were waiting in line to get into a concert when a woman with a clipboard walked up to us and asked, “Are you registered to vote?” Both of us replied with extreme pride, “Yes, we are!”

We were 18, had just graduated from high school, and we were going to vote in our first Presidential election that fall.

In 2008, my husband and I made “Hope Chili” and watched TV as states turned blue and red from East to West. It was early on the West Coast when my aunt texted me from Grant Park in Chicago where she and her family watched our new President accept America’s vote.

It’s 2012, and another Presidential election is right around the corner. Now that both candidates have accepted their party’s nomination, it’s time to make sure your own paperwork is in order.

If you don’t register to vote, you can’t vote

I don’t care which side of the issues you stand on, but if you don’t vote, then you don’t have an opinion on any of them.

Register to vote today to make sure that you do.

If you’re in college, register to vote at your home address as an absentee. This election is more than who will be the leader of the U.S.; it is also about electing people to represent decisions that will be made for you in the place that you call “home.” Decisions like how much those teachers who inspired you and helped you get to where you are will be paid. Decisions like if your local fire district will have the resources to.

The last day to register to vote in the General Election is early October 2012 and the actual date varies by state. So get your act in gear and register to vote today. (If you live in Washington State, you can register to vote via Facebook.)

Make our forefathers and foremothers proud. Exercise your freedom to have a choice and a voice.

Illustration by John Kimball

The Value of Online Friendships and IRL

bff, by eflon

Two years ago at SXSW I met two people in real life for the first time. After meeting each other, we didn’t have that awkward “getting to know you” phase, instead we were chained to the hip debriefing about sessions and mapping out how each of us were going to make our impact in the world. When we’d meet new people and they asked how we met, we’d answer simultaneously, “On Twitter!”

“You mean you didn’t just meet here?”

Well, sorta. You see, the three of us had been talking for two years online and SXSW happened to be the first time that we were all in the same physical room together.

We joked that we were “IRL-ing,” which is the active verb of spending time “in real life” together as opposed to online. And it was fun, too.

Think about the closest friends that you have, the ones that you can share anything with. Now think about how long it took you to get to that point of comfort with your friend. Years, probably.

Friends vs. Friendship

Yesterday, Monica Guzman wrote about the term “friends” and how in the age of social media, are all of the “friends” that we have online actually friends, or just people we know who we call friends?

She writes about the difference between friends and the role of friendship:

How many people can I turn to in a crisis? A small group of family and close friends I’d think to reach out to — if I keep the trouble offline.

But if I take it online, if I decide that’s all right, it’s all of them plus an unpredictable number of other friends, acquaintances, professional contacts and even strangers who might help, maybe more quickly or more effectively than the people I know and see the most.

These tech-connected “friends” won’t ever replace the flesh-and-blood people with whom we form deep, enduring relationships. But they can act the part a time or two, and even audition for a permanent role….

So are people friends if they act like friends for a moment here, an hour there? Can we draw clean lines between our networks and our friends once and for all?

No, we can’t, and maybe we shouldn’t. Because when we’re so connected, the prevalence of friends doesn’t matter nearly as much as the prevalence of friendship.

The question about if a person is really a friend or not is something that we’ve all wondered for years (just ask any heart-broken teenager). But are the conversations and relationships we have and build online real or not?

Stop Valuing IRL Over Your Online Life

My friend Mouyyad of IRL-ing fame sent me this video of Alexandra Samuel’s talk at TEDxVictoria in which she gives Ten Reasons to Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life (video embedded below). She says:

We are so used to apologizing for our online reality that we actually have an acronym for it: I. R. L., in real life. And you see people all over the Internet itself using this acronym to say, ‘What I’m doing right now online does not count. It’s not real. Reality happens elsewhere.

Wait, so that conversation that I had with someone last week on Twitter that turned into a freelance project wasn’t real? And the person who I met two years ago online who’s turned into one of my closest most trusted friends, isn’t real?

Alexandra’s talk is centered on the idea of “Real Life Too,” a new acronym to embrace and properly recognize all those activities that we do online as being real.

That anonymous person who left a hateful comment on your blog? They’re real. That blogger you’ve been connecting with who lives on the other side of the world? They’re real. That person who lives in your same city who you’ve tweeted with at events but have never shook hands? They’re real, too.

Alexandra Samuel: Ten Reasons to Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life at TEDxVictoria

I still love the term “IRL” because to the friends who I have IRL-ed with, it’s a joke. After building up trust and being our real selves with each other online for years, we were able to skip the awkwardness that comes with meeting people for the first time and jump right into being “friends.” We know that where our friendship started, online, is as real as what happens offline.

I think about all of the “friends” I have on Facebook and how many of them I’m actually friends with, care about, or are just “friends” with because I’m curious to watch what they do in their life. All of that is real, and just because the interactions that we have with each other happen online doesn’t make it any less real.

What do you think, is online life as real as offline life?

Photo by eflon

When do you become a local Seattlelite?

Seattle Sunset over Elliot Bay

I was born and raised in the Seattle-area (read: suburbs) to parents who migrated West from the great cornfields of Iowa (or something romantic like that). I spent many summers crossing the Western United States on various pilgrimages to-and-from Grandparents houses and I can name all fifty states in alphabetical order and lay them out on a map from memory.

I spent my college years studying hipsterdom first-hand in the great city of Portland, Oregon, but made the journey back “home” to Seattle upon graduation.

I am – and always will be – a native Seattleite.

But as another Seattleite pointed out to me this past weekend – we are “rare.”

So today on Twitter I jokingly asked  –

Because, in all honestly, I don’t know where being a “Seattlelite” starts and ends if you’re (gasp!) imported. And got the following responses –

My question to you  – when do you officially become a local?

Photo Credit: Laura Kimball (me!)

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